Theresa May has triggered a major backlash from MPs after she blamed them for the Brexit crisis.
MPs from across the political spectrum – and both Remain and Leave supporters – condemned the Prime Minister’s “arrogant”, “toxic” and ”irresponsible” late night address to the nation from inside Downing Street.
With nine days to go until the UK’s scheduled departure from the EU, May has requested a three-month delay from Brussels.
To hammer home her plan, she used a lectern address to blame MPs for failing to agree a means to implement the result of the 2016 referendum and said she believes voters just want this stage of the Brexit process to be over.
Indicating she believes the public backs her deal, the PM told voters: “I am on your side.”
But the strategy to pit the public against parliament backfired with elected representatives, who are poised to vote for a third time on May’s troubled deal next week.
Former Tory minister Sam Gyimah was the most scathing, labelling the address “toxic”.
He said: “Resorting to the ‘blame game’ as the PM is doing is a low blow.
“Democracy loses when a PM who has set herself against the HoC then blames MPs for doing their job.
“Distracts from Art 50 extension, all part of her strategy to run down the clock and rule out other options. Toxic.”
Wes Streeting of the Labour Party said May will have to “accept her share of responsibility” should any harm come to MPs following her “incendiary and irresponsible” speech.
He tweeted: “I’ve thought long and hard before saying this, but @theresa_may knows that MPs across the House are subjected to death threats – some very credible.
“Her speech was incendiary and irresponsible. If any harm comes to any of us, she will have to accept her share of responsibility.”
Another Labour MP, Stella Creasy, said: “You can try to bully parliament and blame other people for your mistakes but you don’t frighten me. Britain deserves better.”
Labour’s Lisa Nandy, who represents a Leave-supporting seat and has signalled she could back May’s deal, said: “The Prime Minister’s statement was disgraceful.
“Pitting Parliament against the people in the current environment is dangerous and reckless.
“Yesterday her government attacked their civil servants. Now she’s attacking the MPs whose votes she needs. It will have cost her support.”
Conservative Conor Burns tweeted in response to the speech: “What was actually the point of that?”
Lucy Powell, a Labour member of a group of MPs in support of a “Norway-plus” model for Brexit, denounced the suggestion by May that the members of the Commons have not decided what they want.
She wrote on Twitter that MPs have “never been asked what we want”, adding: “We just keep getting asked about the same thing that we’ve said we don’t want!”
May’s broadcast was delayed because a No.10 meeting with Tory MPs overran. During the meeting, she was told “politely but firmly” by at least two MPs that she should resign.
And in a sign a no confidence motion could be tabled to force May out, Labour MP Steve Reed tweeted: “Well I reckon May’s arrogant speech just then will have solidified feelings against her and her wretched deal. This is a confidence matter now. Deal gone, May gone.”
Anna Soubry, of The Independent Group, contested May’s claim parliament has been indecisive, adding the Prime Minister is to blame for the “Brexit crisis” and she has “let everyone down”.
The former Conservative MP tweeted: “No @theresa_may you are to blame for the #BrexitCrisis The impasse in Parliament is all of your own making.
“You never reached out to the 48% & to other parties to create a compromise.
“You set down your own red lines from the outset. You have let everyone down.”
May’s withdrawal agreement, thrashed out with the EU, has already been voted down by MPs twice and in historic numbers.