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Key Brexit legislation pushed back following backlash from MPs

Theresa May has shelved plans to introduce key Brexit legislation to implement the Withdrawal Agreement in the first week of June following a major backlash from MPs.

The Withdrawal Agreement Bill had been expected to be published on Friday and be debated by MPs in the week beginning June 3, when they return after the Whitsun recess.

But Government whip Mark Spencer, announcing forthcoming business in the Commons, said: “We will update the House on the publication and introduction of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill on our return from the Whitsun recess.”

In the Brexit bill's place, the Commons will instead focus on the remaining stages of the Wild Animals in Circuses Bill on Tuesday June 4. The rest of the week filled up with backbench matters, including debates on the Grenfell Tower fire, and "mortgage prisoners and vulture funds".

A bill on the UK's withdrawal bill will be pushed back to after the parliamentary recess. Credit: PA

The Prime Minister met with Cabinet ministers on Thursday to discuss next steps for her Withdrawal Agreement.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is understood to have told the Prime Minister to pull her Withdrawal Agreement Bill, saying it was clear it would not pass.

It was a "step too far" to ask Tory MPs to vote for it under those circumstances, he told Theresa May

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said he had a "frank discussion" with the Mrs May about her Brexit plan.

He is understood to have made clear that he does not believe the Government should be "paving the way" for a second referendum

A Downing Street spokesperson could not say when the Bill would be published and refused to be drawn on speculation about the PM's future in office. The spokesman also confirmed that US president Donald Trump's state visit will still go ahead in June.

Earlier on Thursday, Andrea Leadsom stood by her decision to resign from Government and insisted Theresa May must make her own call on what steps to take next with her premiership and Brexit deal.

Mr Spencer was deputising at business questions following the resignation of Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom, who left the Government in protest at Mrs May’s plans for the Brexit legislation.

Mrs Leadsom is the 36th minister to quit during Mrs May's time in Downing Street.

She is replaced by Treasury minister Mel Stride, Downing Street announced on Thursday afternoon.

Speaking following her resignation Mrs Leadsom told reporters she quit because she couldn't, as leader of the Commons, "announce a bill that I just think has elements I cannot support that aren't Brexit".

She also cited a breakdown of collective responsibility as another of her reasons for stepping down.