Is a 'hard' Brexit the best deal for the UK?

Theresa May with her Austrian counterpart Sebastian Kurz More

Theresa May with her Austrian counterpart Sebastian Kurz More

Britain's besieged Prime Minister Theresa May is warning that a leadership change wouldn't make Brexit negotiations easier, as opponents in her Conservative Party threaten to unseat her.

Andrea Leadsom, the Brexiteer Commons' leader, said she supports the Prime Minister but suggested there is an opportunity before the special European Council meeting to get "the best possible deal for the UK".

He also said in an interview with The Times on Sunday that he resigned as Brexit secretary last week because he could not, in good conscience, sign a "fatally flawed" deal with the European Union.

Stephen Barclay, a little-known junior health minister, was appointed as the new Brexit secretary, although the status of the role was downgraded from chief negotiator with May leading the completion of talks with the EU.

She added the deal would prevent future Governments from striking free trade deals and "threatens the integrity of the UK".

BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith said he was not a household name and it was a big promotion for him.

Friday brought some respite, as supportive Cabinet ministers rallied around her. "A hard Brexit would be disastrous", Kempf said, adding that German firms should prepare for a no-deal exit of Britain from the EU.

Rudd, who has already given her backing to the controversial European Union withdrawal agreement as "not flawless but ideal was never on offer", takes charge as work and pension secretary to replace Esther McVey, who resigned in protest on Thursday.

Barclay campaigned in favor of Brexit ahead of the 2016 referendum.

Ms Rudd said she had seen universal credit "transform lives" in her Hastings and Rye constituency but she "recognised there had been some issues with it".

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It comes as Mrs May fights to get her cabinet, parliament and the country to back the Brexit agreement she has struck with Brussels.

A few rebel Conservative MPs have openly said they've applied for a vote of no-confidence in May, but it's not clear if and when that number will reach 48 and so trigger a leadership challenge.

Brexiteers loathe the 585-page withdrawal deal as it looks set to keep the United Kingdom in a customs union with the EU even after a 21-month planned transition period. MPs from both the Conservatives and Labour say they can not see how the deal will get through Parliament.

May told LBC radio the threat of a no deal Brexit was personal as she is Type 1 diabetic: "I depend on insulin every day".

And two years ago, during a debate over the possibility of a third runway at Heathrow Airport, and when he was city minister, he said: "With Brexit expected by 2019, the importance of the third runway on economic growth and worldwide trade were underlined during a meeting (of the CBI) and I sat in the Chamber to hear the Chancellor highlight the significant economic benefits and how they outweigh any concerns".

She's also dealing with a growing revolt from inside her Conservative Party caucus.

Shailesh Vara, the minister of state at the Northern Ireland Office, was the first top official to resign.

But it led to a backlash from some Brexit-supporting MPs, including Mr Raab and Ms McVey.

"This is a withdrawal agreement which took the best part of two years to negotiate involving 28 countries, all of whom have their own particular concerns and interests", said Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

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