May to outline resignation ‘roadmap’ as Brexit deal receives fresh blow

Conservative eurosceptics vow to vote against Withdrawal Agreement Bill in June

UK prime minister Theresa May (centre) is due to meet the executive backbench of the Conservative and anti-EU 1922 Committee on Thursday. Photograph: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA Wire

UK prime minister Theresa May (centre) is due to meet the executive backbench of the Conservative and anti-EU 1922 Committee on Thursday. Photograph: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA Wire

 

Theresa May will meet senior Conservative backbenchers on Thursday to discuss a timetable for her resignation as hopes of passing her Brexit deal received a fresh blow.

Labour said it would not support the government in a key vote on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill next month without further concessions on the prime minister’s Brexit deal.

Mrs May’s spokesman said on Wednesday that the government planned to give the bill its second reading, which must be approved by a majority of MPs, in the week beginning June 3rd. A number of Conservative eurosceptics have promised to vote against the bill and the DUP’s deputy leader Nigel Dodds said his party will not vote for it as long as the withdrawal agreement remains unchanged.

Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesman said Labour would not support the bill at its second reading unless it had reached an agreement with the government on the Brexit deal.

“Without an agreement and real compromise and movement by the government out of these talks, we’re talking about a Withdrawal Agreement Bill that’s based on the same botched Brexit deal that has been rejected three times already by Parliament,” he said.

When Mrs May meets the executive of the backbench 1922 Committee on Thursday, she is expected to outline a “roadmap” for her departure from Downing Street. She has already promised to step down as soon as her Brexit deal is approved but she is under pressure to name a departure date regardless of the fate of her Brexit deal.

Potential renege

Talks between the government and Labour continued at official level on Wednesday but Mr Corbyn’s spokesman said that there remained gaps between their positions and they have reached no agreement. He said Labour feared that if Mrs May resigns within the next few weeks, her successor as Conservative leader could renege on any deal.

“Jeremy made clear and the shadow cabinet’s made clear that we have serious concerns about negotiating with a government that is in a process of disintegration and what has been said about what might happen if a new Tory leadership is in charge and as we all know most of those potential alternative leaders have made clear that they don’t support this process, they don’t support the content of what has been discussed and they want to overturn it,” the spokesman said.

There are a number of different entrenchment mechanisms and we’ve discussed them. The government has engaged seriously in those issues and there are a huge range of different options but obviously the more the possible overturning or withdrawal of support for anything that might be agreed becomes a reality, the more serious the entrenchment mechanisms need to be.”

The prime minister’s spokesman said the government was talking to the DUP and other parties as well as Labour in an effort to find a majority for the bill.

“We’re having lots of discussions across the House, with colleagues, with confidence and supply partners, with the opposition as you’ve seen. That work will continue as we strive to build a sustainable majority for this Bill. The imperative for passing it is I think entirely clear, which is that if we can get this legislation through then we will be able to give effect to the clearly expressed view of the British people in the referendum to leave the European Union, ” he said.

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