Lawmakers confront May in rowdy House of Commons session
British Prime Minister Theresa May's weekly question-and-answer session in Parliament challenges the leader on free trade issues
LONDON – Lawmakers confronted U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May on her plans for leaving the European Union on Wednesday, with testy exchanges in the House of Commons underscoring her weakening grip on power.
May’s weekly question-and-answer session in Parliament came just days after her plans for exiting the EU were narrowly approved – but only after she bowed to Brexit hardliners. With support faltering, members of her own party, including her former Brexit secretary, felt emboldened to ask sharp questions about her way forward.
Brexit supporter Andrea Jenkyns launched the first salvo in an open challenge to her leader, suggesting policies unveiled last week were closer to those who want to remain in the EU than to those who want to leave.
“Can the prime minister inform the House at what point it was decided that Brexit means Remain?” Jenkyns asked.
Shouts rang out across the Commons.
“At absolutely no point because Brexit continues to mean Brexit,” May replied.
Even former Brexit secretary David Davis jumped into the bad-tempered exchanges, asking May to publish the legal draft of a free trade treaty. Davis’ former deputy, Steve Baker, asked about contingency plans for a no-deal departure.
The session offered a mirror on a party deeply split and a government just scraping by to stay in office. The rowdy scenes also come just hours before May meets with Conservative lawmakers in what is seen as a last chance to rally her forces before a six-week summer recess.
May’s recent white paper outlining plans for a common rule book with the EU over trade in goods has infuriated those who favour a complete break even if it risks causing an economic shock.