By AURORA BOSOTTI//Andrew Bridgen admitted to feeling “dread” when thinking about Theresa May remaining in power until the next general election as he voiced his hope for a leadership challenge.
Mr Bridgen joined the ranks of May critics after the Prime Minister put forward her latest Brexitblueprint, insisting that her election had kept the UK from playing “hardball” with the EU.
Speaking to talkRADIO, the ardent Brexiteer said: “I hope there is a leadership challenge.
“I think we need someone who believes in Brexit to deliver Brexit, it’s clear the EU are playing very hardball and I think we need to play hardball back.”
Mr Bridgen, who already lodged a letter of no confidence at Conservative HQ, argued a change of leadership would help the Government stand its ground as Britain prepares to withdraw from the EU.
He continued: “My letter of no confidence in the Prime Minister is in. If 48 colleagues decide the same, then we will have a vote of confidence in the Prime Minister.
“When you’ve conceded two years of negotiations when you want to stand firm you can understand a level of scepticism on the other side that you’re not going to capitulate again.”
Mr Bridgen revealed that talks with his constituents during recess had highlighted the “dissatisfaction” of Leave voters and he forecasted they will make their unhappiness known to Mrs May during the autumn party conference in Birmingham.
He added: “I spent the last couple of weeks in my constituency, I’ve been delivering some leaflets and speaking to supporters, activists, voters on the ground. There is a deep dissatisfaction with the direction the Government is moving on in Brexit.
“I can’t see, given Theresa May’s track record, her leading us into another general election. That fills me with some dread, having seen her throw away a 20-point lead in the 2017 general election.”
Negotiators are still publicly insisting they want the deal wrapped up within the next seven weeks but sources say in reality the divorce terms will not be finalised until at least mid-November.
Both sides are fully aware that the closer the talks run to the March 29 Brexit date the greater that Britain will leave without a deal.
If the timeframe is stretched further into December or even January, decisions will have to be made on whether to give ground or walk away.
The two sides remain at loggerheads over how to guarantee there will never be a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland but British officials insist they remain “confident” of getting a deal.