News | World News | Embattled May faces bid kill off her Brexit deal within WEEKS

Embattled May faces bid kill off her Brexit deal within WEEKS

Popular Articles

May enters Brexit 'emergency zone': PM begs for more time to overhaul Brexit deal as she faces Labour ambush that could force a vote to kill off her plan within WEEKS

  • Theresa May is scrambling to find a compromise with EU and MPs on Brexit
  • The latest bout of crunch House of Commons votes due to be held on Thursday
  • Labour could try to create hard deadline for the PM to have overhauled her deal

By James Tapsfield, Political Editor, For Mailonline

Published: 03:00 EST, 10 February 2019 | Updated: 11:09 EST, 10 February 2019

2.1k

View
comments

Embattled Theresa May is pleading for MPs to give her more time to overhaul her Brexit deal - as she faces a Labour ambush that could kill off her plans within weeks.  

An Opposition amendment being tabled for the latest round of high-stakes Brexit votes on Thursday would oblige the PM to bring her package back before MPs by February 26, even if she has not managed to get any more concessions from the EU. 

The move comes amid fears that Mrs May is engaged in a 'cynical' attempt to run down the clock and leave politicians with a stark choice between her deal or crashing out on March 29. 

But Mrs May is trying to calm a potential Tory mutiny by assuring her troops they will have another opportunity to vote by February 27, regardless of whether her renegotiation is complete. 

The political wrangling escalated as business leaders warned that the UK was now in the 'emergency zone of Brexit' with uncertainty damaging the economy. 

Meanwhile, Remainer MPs are trying another tactic to secure a second referendum - suggesting they could back Mrs May's plan in the Commons if she agrees to put it to the country afterwards. 

Theresa May (pictured with husband Philip at church in Maidenhead today) has promised another 'meaningful vote' in the coming weeks, but Labour is determined to reduce her wriggle room
Theresa May (pictured with husband Philip at church in Maidenhead today) has promised another 'meaningful vote' in the coming weeks, but Labour is determined to reduce her wriggle room

Theresa May (pictured with husband Philip at church in Maidenhead today) has promised another 'meaningful vote' in the coming weeks, but Labour is determined to reduce her wriggle room

Sir Keir Starmer (pictured last week) accused the PM of 'pretending to make progress' when what she actually wanted to do was return to Parliament after an EU summit on March 21 and 22 and offer MPs a 'binary choice' - her deal or no deal
Sir Keir Starmer (pictured last week) accused the PM of 'pretending to make progress' when what she actually wanted to do was return to Parliament after an EU summit on March 21 and 22 and offer MPs a 'binary choice' - her deal or no deal

Sir Keir Starmer (pictured last week) accused the PM of 'pretending to make progress' when what she actually wanted to do was return to Parliament after an EU summit on March 21 and 22 and offer MPs a 'binary choice' - her deal or no deal

Mrs May stopped to pet Blitz the dog as she arrived for the church service in her Maidenhead constituency today
Mrs May stopped to pet Blitz the dog as she arrived for the church service in her Maidenhead constituency today

Mrs May stopped to pet Blitz the dog as she arrived for the church service in her Maidenhead constituency today

The PM has promised another 'meaningful vote' as soon as possible, but Labour is determined to reduce her wriggle room.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer told the Sunday Times: 'We have got to put a hard stop into this running down the clock.

'And that's what we want to do this week.'

Tony Blair warns no-deal Brexit would be 'devastating' for NI 

Tony Blair stepped up his warnings on no-deal Brexit today saying it would be 'devastating' for Northern Ireland and breach the Good Friday Agreement.

The former PM said crashing out of the EU would inevitably lead to a 'really hard border' on the island of Ireland and cause a huge split within the UK.

Despite a series of setbacks for those campaigning for another Brexit referendum, Mr Blair said still hoped one might happen when people saw the 'true alternatives' the country faces. 

Former Labour leader Mr Blair heaped pressure on Mrs May this morning by issuing another dire warning about the consequences of leaving without a deal.

'No one could responsibly propose (a no-deal Brexit). It would be economically very, very dangerous for Britain, and for the peace process in Ireland it would potentially be devastating, ' he told Sky News' Sophy Ridge On Sunday.

Sir Keir accused the PM of 'pretending to make progress' when what she actually wanted to do was return to Parliament after an EU summit on March 21 and 22 and offer MPs a 'binary choice' - her deal or no deal.

On that timeline a vote would potentially only take place in the Commons on Tuesday March 26 - just 72 hours before the UK is due to leave. 

'We can't allow that to happen,' Sir Keir said. 'There needs to be a day when Parliament says that's it, enough is enough.'

On the BBC's Andrew Marr show today, Housing Secretary James Brokenshire refused to confirm that the vote on a deal would happen by the end of February.  

'If the meaningful vote has not happened, so in other words things have not concluded, then Parliament would have that further opportunity by no later than 27 February,' he said.

'I think that gives that sense of timetable, clarity and purpose on what we are doing with the EU - taking that work forward and our determination to get a deal - but equally knowing that role that Parliament very firmly has.'

In the interview Sir Keir described Mrs May's approach as 'reckless' and 'blinkered' and blamed her 'tunnel vision' for the devastating defeat suffered last month when MPs threw out her Brexit deal by a record 230 votes.

'It's this blinkered approach that's got us to where we are, with her never wanting to see where the real majority is in Parliament,' Sir Keir said.

However, Labour is facing its own deep splits on Brexit, with dozens of MPs furious with the leadership to failing to get behind a second referendum.

Jeremy Corbyn wrote to the Prime Minister last week setting out his demands for a deal he could support - but without mentioning the potential for another public vote.

Instead he appeared to be trying to outflank Mrs May by pitching to join forces with Tories who want a softer Brexit, calling for a customs union and close alignment to the single market.   

Ton Blair has warned that a no-deal Brexit would be 'devastating' for Northern Ireland 
Ton Blair has warned that a no-deal Brexit would be 'devastating' for Northern Ireland 

Ton Blair has warned that a no-deal Brexit would be 'devastating' for Northern Ireland 

Treasury Chief Secretary Liz Truss refused to rule out quitting today if Mrs May shifted to a position of backing a customs union in order to get a Brexit deal through Parliament.

She told Sky News' Sophy Ridge On Sunday: 'I appreciate Jeremy Corbyn has come to the table but the reality is what he is proposing does not deliver on what we want as a country.'

Treasury minister refuses to rule out quitting if May backs customs union 

Treasury Chief Secretary Liz Truss refused to rule out quitting today if Mrs May backs a permanent customs union in order to get a Brexit deal through Parliament.

Labour has demanded the concession from the PM and close single market alignment in return for supporting her package. 

But Ms Truss told Sky News' Sophy Ridge On Sunday: 'I appreciate Jeremy Corbyn has come to the table but the reality is what he is proposing does not deliver on what we want as a country.'

She added that she wants an 'independent trade policy' and questioned whether a customs union could command a majority in Parliament.

Asked if she could stay in office if that became government policy, she said: 'I absolutely do not think that should be our policy.' 

She added that she wants an 'independent trade policy' and questioned whether a customs union could command a majority in Parliament.

Asked if she could stay in office if that became government policy, she said: 'I absolutely do not think that should be our policy.' 

CBI Director General Carolyn Fairbairn highlighted the growing concerns about deadlock today.  

'It feels like the parliamentary process is in logjam, no way can be found through, so that prospect of no-deal feels much higher,' she told Sky News. 

'We really are in the emergency zone of Brexit now.' 

In a speech in Coventry, Mr Corbyn said Labour's plan 'could win the support of Parliament and bring the country together' but Mrs May has so far 'chosen the path of division'.

'If she is unable to adopt a sensible deal because it would split the Tories, then the answer is quite simple: there must be a general election,' Mr Corbyn said.

Mrs May survived a confidence motion in her government tabled by Mr Corbyn, which could have led to an election, after her Brexit deal was overwhelmingly rejected by MPs last month.

In a speech in Coventry yesterday, Mr Corbyn said that without an election 'we will keep all options on the table - as agreed in our conference motion - including the option of a public vote'.

In his letter to Mrs May, the Labour leader set out five demands, including a permanent customs union and close alignment with the single market.

EU 'would demand price for Brexit delat'  

Pro-Brexit lawyers have warned that EU states would demand more concessions in return for extending the Article 50 process beyond the end of March. 

In a report, Martin Howe QC said 'Spain is likely to demand permanent concessions over Gibraltar' in return for more time.

Meanwhile, Germany could try to 'lock in' the divorce deal regardless of whether a final agreement is reached,

'By asking for a favour when up against the clock, the UK would once again put itself in a very weak negotiating position,'Mr Howe wrote.

The move led to a backlash from pro-EU Labour MPs, but Sir Keir defended the approach and warned against a split in the party.

'When you go through something like Brexit, it is very important that you keep the opposition strong and united,' he said.

'We have to keep it together, because in the end, any chance of effective opposition goes if an opposition party starts to lose members from their team.'

Meanwhile, pro-Brexit lawyers have warned that EU states would demand more concessions in return for extending the Article 50 process beyond the end of March. 

In a report, Martin Howe QC said 'Spain is likely to demand permanent concessions over Gibraltar' in return for more time.

Meanwhile, Germany could try to 'lock in' the divorce deal regardless of whether a final agreement is reached,

'By asking for a favour when up against the clock, the UK would once again put itself in a very weak negotiating position,'Mr Howe wrote.

What will happen next in the unfolding Brexit drama? 

Valentine's Day 

MPs will hold another round of votes on Brexit.

They are not due to pass judgement on Theresa May's deal - instead debating a 'neutral' motion simply saying that they have considered the issue.

However, a range of amendments are set to be tabled. They could include proposals to delay the Brexit date beyond March 29. 

Labour is pushing a change that would force another 'meaningful vote' on the PM's Brexit deal by February 26, regardless of whether she has finished renegotiating the package with the EU.

February 24-25

Mrs May could have an opportunity to seal a new package with fellow EU leaders at a joint summit with the Arab League in Sharm el-Sheikh.

However, it is not clear how many will attend the gathering - or whether she will have completed the deal by then.

February 27

Downing Street is trying to head off a potential Tory Remainer mutiny by promising MPs will get another set of votes by this date regardless of whether there is a final deal.

March 21-22

The PM will attend a scheduled EU summit in Brussels that would effectively be the last opportunity to get agreement.

Some MPs fear that Mrs May is trying to delay for as long as possible, and might even try to hold a make-or-break vote in the Commons on March 26. That would be just 72 hours before Brexit, giving them a very stark deal-or-no-deal choice.

11pm, March 29

The UK is due to leave the EU with or without a deal, unless the Article 50 process is extended with approval from the bloc's leaders, or revoked to cancel Brexit altogether. 

Advertisement
View All

MOST WATCHED NEWS VIDEOS

By Shawn Arnette 10/02/2019 11:09:00