Theresa May rules out snap election before Brexit as it would not be 'in the national interest'

She said another vote would trigger further uncertainty so close to Brexit Day – crushing speculation that No10 was “war-gaming” a snap election in November in a bid to get voters to approve her under-fire Chequers blueprint.

Speaking as she travelled to the UN General Assembly in New York, the PM also launched a passionate defence of her Brexit strategy – insisting it was the only credible Brexit plan on the table.

She signalled a no deal Brexit could be better than a Canada-style arrangement that has been backed by both Brexiteers and Brussels.

The Prime Minister said the idea was even worse than the chaos of crashing out with nothing in place by March because it would threaten to break up the UK.

Meanwhile German Chancellor Angela Merkel stepped up the pressure on Mrs May yesterday by warning her that the 21-month transition period won't be long enough if the two sides haven't hammered out concrete terms on the future partnership within eight weeks.

And the PM also faced fresh pressure from Tory MPs last night after ex-minister Mark Francois said the influential European Research Group of about 60 backbenchers would vote against any final Brexit deal that was "based on Chequers because "it doesn't represent Brexit."

Brussels has proposed an advanced free trade arrangement similar to the one struck with Canada.

But this would effectively put a customs and regulatory border in the Irish Sea – cutting off Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

Brexiteers including David Davis, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson have backed a similar Canada-style deal – but so far this alternative plan doesn’t have a solution to avoiding the return of the Irish border.

But asked yesterday if a no deal Brexit is better than a 'Canada Plus' arrangement, Mrs May said: "First of all, I have always said no deal is better than a bad deal. I think a bad deal would be, for example, a deal that broke up the United Kingdom.

"We want to maintain the unity of the United Kingdom. What we have put on the table is a good deal, it's a deal which retains the union of the United Kingdom, our constitutional integrity, it's a deal that provides for no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, protects jobs and enables us to have a good trading relationship with Europe and also the rest of the world.

"When we get to the point of a deal – and as Prime Minister I do believe we can get to a good deal – we will take that deal back to Parliament and at that point MPs will have a clear choice.

"They will have a choice as to whether to support that deal. They will have to recognise looking at their vote that what we are doing is delivering on the vote of the British people in the referendum."

The PM also attacked Labour for taking the side of Brussels by vowing to oppose “any deal I bring back – regardless of how good it is for the UK”.

She said: “They will accept any deal the EU gives regardless of how bad it is for the UK. That is not in the national interest – what we are doing is in the national interest.”

Meanwhile in a pledge to Brenda from Bristol – who famously shouted “not another one” at news of the PM’s snap General Election last year – the PM said: “What I’m doing is working to deliver a good deal with Europe in the national interest.

“It would not be in the national interest to have an election.”

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