Theresa May says UK would be better off if MPs had backed her Brexit deal

Former prime minister Theresa May speaking in the House of Commons (PA Wire)
Former prime minister Theresa May speaking in the House of Commons (PA Wire)

Theresa May has said she believes the UK would have been better off if MPs had backed her Brexit deal.

Ms May was replaced by Boris Johnson as Prime Minister in 2019 after her deal to leave the EU was rejected three times and efforts to find a compromise with Labour failed.

In rare remarks about her failure to shepherd a Brexit deal through Parliament, Ms May told the BBC on Wednesday that it would have “given the country a better overall deal”.

Speaking on the Political Thinking podcast, the Conservative MP said she tried to secure a Brexit agreement that “recognised the concerns” of those who voted Remain, but also was acceptable to Brexiteers.

“It wouldn’t have given either side 100% of what they wanted, but it would have given the country a better overall deal,” she said.

She rejected claims that her arrangement, which failed to clear the Commons three times and left her Government facing a no confidence motion, would have been a “hard” Brexit.

Theresa May and Boris Johnson pictured in 2017 (PA Archive)
Theresa May and Boris Johnson pictured in 2017 (PA Archive)

Her deal would have seen Britain follow EU rules until both sides could be assured that Brexit measures would not establish a hard border in Ireland - a safety mechanism known as the “backstop".

Speaking to LBC’s Tonight, Ms May said Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement, signed in 2020 and fully enacted in 2021, had made it “difficult for people" in Northern Ireland, because of an effective trade border it created.

“We had that period of time when it was really very difficult for Northern Ireland and difficult for people, supermarkets and so forth in Great Britain who were sending food over to Northern Ireland, all the checks and stuff that came as a result of Boris Johnson’s deal.

“So that is why I think my deal would not have been in that position and would have been better.”

Elsewhere in the BBC interview, Ms May, the UK’s second female prime minister, said she feels sexism is still at play in British politics.

She said there was a “focus" on what she wore and the media framed her as a “typically silly woman".

“It is one of the challenges, sadly, for women in public life. If a man shows emotion, it is wonderful that he is showing that side of himself,” she said. “If a woman shows emotion, it is weakness.”

Ms May also told media outlets that she would not have used Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s language of calling migrants an “invasion”.

The former prime minister raised concerns about Ms Braverman likening the arrival of asylum seekers on small boats to an “invasion on our southern coast” during comments made in the Commons last year.

The interviews are part of the senior politician’s promotional campaign for a book she has written called The Abuse Of Power.