UK Politics: May faces Brexiteers and Trump but Tories still lead polls

Theresa May
Theresa May
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Theresa May's government faced collapse this week, as two prominent Brexiteers expressed their dissatisfaction. It wasn't the ideal way to prepare next week's big Brexit votes but the PM has survived and her party still lead Labour in the polls. Max Liu reports...

"Today, bettors are divided over whether May will see Brexit through. May is [2.0] to leave Downing Street before Brexit is complete and [1.86] to get the job done before she heads off into the big blue yonder."

Next week is supposed to be the big one for Theresa May when MPs will vote on key Brexit issues. As it turned out, though, this one was pretty challenging for the UK's embattled Prime Minister.

A year to the day since she lost her majority in a general election that she called to strengthen her position, May's government faced collapse as Brexit Secretary David Davis threatened to resign over the Brexit backstop plan that could keep the UK tied to the EU until 2021.

In the event, Davis stayed on, claiming to have won compromises from the PM. Hours later, though, a recording was leaked of Boris Johnson saying Donald Trump would do a better job of negotiating Brexit.

Perhaps Johnson was miffed to see another Brexiteer surpassing his own ability to undermine the PM. Regardless, with big Brexit votes in Parliament next week, these events were not been an ideal way to prepare.

Today, bettors are divided over whether May will see Brexit through. May is [2.0] to leave Downing Street before Brexit is complete and [1.86] to get the job done before she heads off into the big blue yonder.

Tory Remainers could support May to prevent Brexiteer takeover

If anything, getting away to Canada at the end of the week for a bizarre G7 meeting, which was undermined throughout by Trump, was respite for May.

But now May is back ahead of a week when MPs will vote on key Brexit issues, including the customs union and Parliament's role in approving the final deal.

How the vote goes comes down to how many Tories are prepared to vote against their party. Labour, the Lib Dems and SNP should need only a handful of rebels to defeat the government. Tory Remainers Anna Soubry and Kenneth Clarke are likely to vote against the PM.

Others, like Amber Rudd and Nicky Morgan, however, look set to support the government. They are concerned that, if the government is defeated, that will trigger May's downfall and create a vacuum in which the Brexiteers take control of the party.

For that reason, May is likely to survive this week's votes, with Tory Remainers holding off their challenge to the government until later in the summer. As ever with Brexit, the crisis is likely to be deferred.

If and when May does fall, Paul Krishnamurty explains here why Michael Gove could be best placed to take advantage.

Gove was sacked as Education Secretary in 2014 by David Cameron who feared Gove would put voters off the Tories at the next year's general election. But has Gove's role as prominent Leave campaigner boosted his popularity within his party and in the country?

A new poll says nearly a quarter of Tory members want Gove as their next leader and, on Betfair, he's the new favourite to succeed May at [5.6]. The odds on Sajid Javid, meanwhile, have also been narrowing since he became Home Secretary and he's into [9.4].

Tories still lead Labour in polls

Labour have their own Brexit divisions and they were back on the agenda this week, when Keir Starmer announced the party's latest amendment to the EU withdrawal bill, which is summed up as proposing "the softest possible Brexit".

The amendment was dismissed as too little, too late by Labour Remainers and Corbyn critics, including Chuka Umunna and Alastair Campbell, with the latter pointing to this week's YouGov poll which puts the Tories (44%) seven points ahead of Labour (37%).

We learned one year ago that polls can be unreliable - and other firms have the gap between the two parties at a single point - but bettors make the Tories are [1.91] to win the next election.

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