“A change of leadership in the Conservative party now would put our country’s future at risk and create uncertainty when we can least afford it.”
That’s the verdict of Maidenhead MP Theresa May, who delivered a stern rebuke to the MPs who sent letters to the Chairman of the Conservatives’ 1922 Committee calling for a vote in confidence in her leadership of the party.
This morning, Mrs May, whose constituency includes Sonning, Woodley, Twyford and Wargrave, stood outside 10 Downing Street to defend her leadership and her handling of the Brexit negotiations.
It has been a tough week for Mrs May. On Monday she was in Parliament explaining why a crucial vote on her Brexit deal would no longer take place, while yesterday she went on a whistlestop tour of Europe to try and broker amendments to the proposed deal.
However, a planned trip to Dublin today has now been cancelled as Mr May seeks to shore up support for her Premiership from fellow MPs.
She said she would take on her critics “with everything I’ve got” and that changing leader now would put “our country’s future at risk”.
Mrs May, who visited Twyford’s Christmas tree festival last week, warned that any new leader wouldn’t be in place by the January 21 legal deadline for the Brexit deal – making no deal more likely.
She said: “A leadership election risks handing control of the Brexit negotiations to opposition MPs in parliament.
“The new leader wouldn’t have time to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement and get the legislation through parliament by 29 March, so one of their first acts would have to be extending or rescinding article 50, delaying or even stopping Brexit when people want us to get on with it.
“And a leadership election would not change the fundamentals of the negotiation, or the parliamentary arithmetic. Weeks spent tearing ourselves apart will only create more division just as we should be standing together to serve our country. None of that would be in the national interest. The only people whose interests would be served would be Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.”
A portion of Mrs May’s speech was devoted to her service as a Conservative party member – and constituency MP – for more than four decades.
“I have been a member of the Conservative party for over 40 years.
“I have served it as an activist, councillor, MP, shadow minister, home secretary and now as prime minister.
“I stood to be leader because I believe in the Conservative vision for a better future.”
And she concluded:
“But the Conservatives must not be a single issue party; we are a party of the whole nation.
“Moderate, pragmatic, mainstream: committed to re-uniting our country and building a country that works for everyone – the agenda I set out in my first speech outside this front door.
“Delivering the Brexit people voted for. Building a country that works for everyone. I have devoted myself unsparingly to these tasks ever since I became prime minister. And I stand ready to finish the job.”