May’s Brexit deal: MPs set to vote on alternatives
Mounting speculation PM will set date for resignation to get backbenchers on board
Theresa May: will address Conservative backbenchers on Wednesday afternoon. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP
MPs will vote on alternatives to Theresa May’s Brexit deal on Wednesday amid mounting speculation that the British prime minister will set a date for her resignation when she addresses Conservative backbenchers on Wednesday afternoon.
Among the options tabled for debate by MPs are, remaining in the EU single market and customs union, putting Brexit to a second referendum, and cancelling it by revoking article 50.
Wednesday’s votes follow Monday’s vote to allow MPs to take control of the parliamentary timetable in an attempt to break the deadlock over Brexit by seeking a cross-party solution. MPs will vote on Wednesday evening on options selected by Speaker John Bercow in “indicative votes” and will set aside further time next Monday to consider how to proceed.
The votes come as leading Brexiteers Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson signalled that they are ready to vote for Mrs May’s deal because they fear it is the only way to ensure that Britain leaves the EU.
“The choice seems to be Mrs May’s deal or no Brexit,” Mr Rees-Mogg said.
Mr Johnson was booed at an event in London Tuesday night when he said he had reached the same conclusion.
“If we vote down the PM’s deal there’s a growing risk we won’t leave at all,” he said.
The DUP, however, whose 10 votes are essential for the deal to pass, have hardened their opposition to it and Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson said the party would not vote for it without changes to the backstop.
“We have worked assiduously with the Government to try to get changes to the agreement and will continue to do so, but we will not vote for an unamended or unchanged version,” he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.
“Even if we are forced into a one-year extension, we at least would have a say on the things which affect us during that time and would have the right to unilaterally decide to leave at the end of that one-year period through the simple decision of not applying for a further extension.”
A number of Conservative Brexiteers have said they will vote for the deal if Mrs May agrees to resign and the expectation at Westminster Tuesday night was that she will set out a timetable for her departure when she addresses the backbench 1922 Committee on Wednesday afternoon.
In Dublin, following the Government’s admission of talks with the European Commission on arrangements for the Border in the event of a hard Brexit, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the Government would face a “dilemma” as it would face the need to keep the Border open but would also have obligations to protect the single market.
Mr Varadkar was pressed by opposition leaders on the preparations for the Border in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
He stressed that no preparations were being made for a hard border, but said that “rough preliminary discussions” had taken place with the European Commission about ways of protecting the single market and customs union should the UK leave without a deal.
He said the UK would continue to have obligations under the Belfast Agreement “but we also recognise that the UK will have obligations under WTO rules”.
But he added: “We will have obligations to protect our single market and our customs union as well. And that obviously is a problem, it creates a dilemma.”