Eurosceptic MPs were furious when European Commission chief Jean–Claude Juncker insisted: “There is no room whatsoever for renegotiation.” The top Eurocrat’s rebuff was delivered as the Prime Minister came up against a wall of resistance on a whistlestop European tour seeking to win fresh concessions to assuage MPs blocking her deal. Leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, responding to the intransigence from Brussels, said: “If there is no room for renegotiation then we leave without a deal and do not pay the EU £39billion.”
As the diplomatic crisis deepened Tory plotters were reported to have stepped up their bid to force her out of Downing Street.
Eurosceptics angry at the scrapping of yesterday’s scheduled Commons vote on the Prime Minister’s deal, claimed a barrage of letters demanding a no-confidence vote in her leadership had been sent to the chairman of the party’s backbenchers.
There was growing confidence last night that enough letters have been submitted by Conservative MPs to trigger a vote of no-confidence in Prime Minister Theresa May’s leadership, with multiple sources saying the target of 48 letters has been reached.
Chairman of the Conservative 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady confirmed the number had been reached this morning and now the Prime Minister faces a vote on her future tonight.
Peter Bone, another leading Eurosceptic, also urged Mrs May to respond to Mr Juncker’s obstinacy by insisting Britain is ready to quit the EU without a deal.
He said: “If the Prime Minister was to say that and make clear she meant it, the EU might listen. The problem all along is that she hasn’t said that.”
The demand came after Mrs May faced intransigence abroad and mutiny at home as she tried to save her deal after pulling out of a crunch Commons vote yesterday.
On her whistlestop tour after cancelling a Commons crunch vote on the package, the Prime Minister was told by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr Juncker and European Council president Donald Tusk that the departure negotiations cannot be reopened.
Mrs May jetted between The Hague, Berlin and Brussels yesterday to plead with EU leaders for new legally binding reassurances that the Irish backstop mechanism cannot trap the UK into the bloc’s customs union indefinitely.
She insisted she found a mood of “shared determination” among Mrs Merkel, Dutch premier Mark Rutte, Mr Tusk and commission president Mr Juncker.
“What has been shown to me this evening is that there is a shared determination to deal with this issue and address this problem,” the Prime Minister said.
Dismissing reports of Tory plotting, she added: “I have been here in Europe dealing with the issue that I promised Parliament that I would be dealing with, which is the backstop for Northern Ireland and talking to leaders about the concerns Parliament has raised.”
Sources in Brussels and Berlin insisted the withdrawal agreement could not be reopened, effectively ruling out any hope of changes enforceable in international law.
Mr Juncker told the European Parliament in Strasbourg: “The deal we achieved is the best possible. It’s the only deal possible. There is no room whatsoever for renegotiation.”
Mr Tusk appeared to offer her a glimmer of hope after their “long and frank discussion” by insisted the EU “wants to help” but added: “The question is how?”