Theresa May has handed her perennial political headache to her successor as she arrived in Brussel’s for the last time as prime minister.
Speaking before a meeting with EU leaders on Tuesday, she said “the importance of actually delivering on Brexit” had been laid bare by the Tories’ “deeply disappointing” results in the European elections.
May added: “I think the best way to do that is with a deal, but it will be for my successor and for parliament to find a way forward to get a consensus and I hope those election results will focus parliament on the need to deliver Brexit.”
The comments are aimed at Brexiteers in the race to replace her who have said they are prepared to back a no-deal departure from the EU, something which could lead to a clash with parliament.
Earlier on Tuesday, Downing Street indicated May’s Brexit legislation, which consumed her time as PM, may now be scrapped following her decision to quit as Tory leader on June 7.
The Withdrawal Agreement Bill had been due to be published in the week beginning June 3, according to plans set out before the PM announced her decision to step down as Tory leader.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We now have to reflect on the fact that we are in a different position.”
May’s decision to step down has triggered a Tory leadership race which is certain to centre on the contenders’ Brexit stances.
Jeremy Hunt, one of 10 MPs currently vying for the job, warned the Tories face “destruction” if a new leader calls a general election before delivering Brexit.
The foreign secretary warned rivals that calling a general election – potentially to win a mandate for a no-deal Brexit – could be a disaster for the Tories, insisting that the UK’s exit from the EU must be completed before going to the polls.
Setting out the scale of the challenge facing the Tories, Hunt told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We must not go back to the electorate asking for their mandate until we’ve delivered what we promised we would do last time, which is to deliver Brexit, it would be absolutely catastrophic for us as a party.”
Leadership rival Dominic Raab also said he was focused on “getting a fairer deal from the EU as we leave”.
But outgoing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker stressed “there will be no renegotiation”.
The agreement between the EU and May to delay Brexit until October 31 included a commitment not to seek a renegotiation of the deal.
May is in Brussels with counterparts from the 27 other European Union countries for talks on how to decide who will replace Juncker.