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Theresa May urges Tory backbenchers to keep Jeremy Corbyn out of power

Theresa May warned backbenchers that Jeremy Corbyn would benefit from Tory divisions (Niklas Halle’n/PA) Photo: PA Archive/PA Images

Theresa May raised the prospect of a Jeremy Corbyn-led government to appeal for Tory unity on Brexit.

Addressing the backbench 1922 Committee, the Prime Minister said the alternative to the party coming together could be a left wing Labour administration.

Solicitor General Robert Buckland said: “She talked about Corbyn, she talked about the alternative which is delivering the country to the sort of government that I don’t think people have voted for and certainly any Conservative voter would be repelled by.”

Asked if the PM lives to fight another day after the meeting,  Mr Buckland said: “Oh, definitely. I think she is strengthened by all of this.

“I think it helps her. What she said, I think the most striking remark was ‘to lead is to decide’.”

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Arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said he did not believe there would be a vote of confidence in Mrs May by Tory MPs, but called on her to change her Brexit stance as he attacked the Cabinet deal on EU withdrawal hammered out at a summit at Chequers last week.

Asked if the Tories were splitting, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “I think there is one issue of grave concern and that is the Government has been briefing Labour members of Parliament.

“If the Government plans to get the Chequers deal through on the back of Labour Party votes that would be the most divisive thing you could do.

“And it would be a split coming from the top, not from the members of the Conservative Party across the country.”