Theresa May has urged the UK to ‘come together’ over Brexit in a Christmas
Writing exclusively for the Daily Express, the Prime Minister talks of her confidence that Brexit will be delivered on schedule in the new year and bitter divisions between Leave and Remain supporters can be healed. She also urges MPs to back her Brussels deal so the Government can start to address key domestic policy challenges facing Britain. She writes: “I know that when the British people come together, there is no limit to what we can achieve.”
In a warning shot to MPs still squabbling over her Brexit deal, the Prime Minister warns that Westminster is in danger of losing sight of the concerns of ordinary voters.
“People don’t talk only about Europe,” the Prime Minister says, pointing toward the urgent need to tackle the housing crisis, raise school standards and make the NHS fit for the 21st century.
Mrs May’s highly personal Christmas message to Express readers reflects her feelings about what she hears from many members of the public when out campaigning, as well as the thousands who write to her in Downing Street.
Aides say the Prime Minister has been struck by the firm desire of voters who were on opposite sides of the 2016 EU referendum divide for the issue to be resolved so the Government can get on with the task of modernising public services and national infrastructure.
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She also acknowledges public frustration with the recent paralysis at Westminster with Tory rebels and opposition MPs lining up against her Brussels deal.
In her letter she likens the country to a family coming together at Christmas and putting past disagreements behind it.
“It’s a time when we find it within ourselves to put aside our differences and focus on what really matters,” writes Mrs May, who will spend Christmas Day with husband Philip in her Maidenhead constituency and attend a local church service.
Two and a half years after the 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU, she says past opponents need to let go of the Leave and Remain tags and “find common ground and focus on what we can achieve together”, she adds.
Theresa May hosted a birthday party for the NHS earlier this year
Mrs May believes “the vast majority of people in this country” want politicians to move on from the rows over Brexit to focus on other pressing concerns.
Voters want to know the NHS “will be there for them” and that their children “will be able to go to a good school”.
Mrs May also highlights the public worries about the shortage of affordable homes.
“The sooner MPs agree the right Brexit deal, the sooner we can all get back to dealing with those issues and building a country that works for everyone,” she writes, while accepting that “hard work” lies ahead for the Government over the coming months.
Theresa May’s allies believe the DUP are softening their stance on the Brexit deal
Her allies have detected a softening of tone from Eurosceptic Tory rebels and her parliamentary allies in the Democratic Unionist Party in recent days in their criticism of the “backstop” mechanism, designed to keep the border between Northern Ireland and Irish Republic border open after Brexit.
One senior Government source said: “It’s now very much our expectation that we can win this vote.”
Some Tory rebels are understood to be coming under increasing pressure from their local party constituency associations to stop undermining the Prime Minister, with at least two members of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s European Research Group reportedly threatened with deselection if they don’t get behind her deal.
Government negotiators are expected to resume talks with their Brussels counterparts soon after the Christmas break in the search for legal guarantees that the backstop will be limited, to prevent the UK being trapped in the EU’s customs union indefinitely.
Members of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Steve Baker’s ERG have been threatened with deselection
Oliver Robbins, the most senior official in the UK negotiating team, is believed to have met some EU negotiators on Wednesday in an effort to reach agreement by the second week in January.
With Westminster’s Brexit hostilities on hold over the Commons festive recess, Downing Street aides are relieved the PM has weathered a tumultuous few weeks and seen off a Eurosceptic Tory rebel attempt to oust her from office.
They believe her authority has been enhanced by the failure of the coup and a growing number of Tory MPs who previously had misgivings about her Brexit deal are ready to support if meaningful assurances can be won from Brussels.
Mrs May’s Cabinet allies were yesterday said to be plotting to keep her in Downing Street for another two years to give time for a new generation of ministers to emerge as future leadership contenders.