Owen Paterson joins Tory calls for vote of no confidence in May

Former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson has become the latest Tory MP to call for a vote of no confidence in Theresa May amid claims she is on the brink of a leadership challenge.

Westminster was awash with speculation the threshold of 48 letters needed to trigger a vote of Conservative MPs is close to being reached following her decision to delay a Commons vote on her Brexit deal.

The warnings came as the Prime Minister earlier embarked on a whistle stop of European capitals in an attempt to secure fresh assurances to save her Brexit deal.

The BBC reported the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady – the only person who knows for certain how many letters have been submitted – has requested a meeting with Mrs May on Wednesday.

In his letter, published in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Paterson said her conduct of the Brexit negotiations “eroded trust in the Government, to the point where I and many others can no longer take the Prime Minister at her word”.

The former Northern Ireland and environment secretary and prominent Brexit supporter, said Mrs May had become a “blockage” to an agreement which Parliament and the country could support.

Owen Paterson
Owen Paterson

“She has repeatedly said ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’, but it is clear her objective was to secure a deal at any cost,” he wrote.

“The conclusion is now inescapable that the Prime Minister is the blockage to the wide-ranging free trade agreement offered by (European Council president Donald) Tusk which would be in the best interests of the country and command the support of Parliament.”