Not enough support to put Brexit deal to third vote – May

Prime minister cites the absence of devolved institutions in Northern Ireland as one reason she asked the EU to postpone Brexit

The prime minister Theresa May chaired an emergency cabinet meeting on Monday morning to discuss how to proceed with Brexit after EU leaders set a new series of deadlines last week.  Photograph: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA

The prime minister Theresa May chaired an emergency cabinet meeting on Monday morning to discuss how to proceed with Brexit after EU leaders set a new series of deadlines last week. Photograph: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA

 

Theresa May has told MPs that she does not have enough support to put her Brexit deal to a third vote at Westminster after the DUP said it cannot back it. And she cited the absence of devolved institutions in Northern Ireland as one reason she asked the EU to postpone Brexit beyond the original article 50 deadline of next Friday.

“I wanted to deliver Brexit on the 29th of March. But I am conscious of my duties as prime minister to all parts of our United Kingdom and of the damage to that union leaving without a deal could do when one part of it is without devolved government and unable therefore to prepare properly,” she said.

Mrs May was speaking hours after a phone call with DUP leader Arlene Foster, who told her the party’s 10 MPs would not support the Brexit deal if it was put to a vote. DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said the suspension of the Stormont institutions was “an entirely new argument” for postponing Brexit and he asked the prime minister about Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s assertion that there would be no checks at the Border in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

“The reality is that this backstop problem has been elevated. I would like the prime minister’s views on this: why does the EU insist on it when, in the case of no deal, there do not need to be any checks? Why did the prime minister ever agree to this backstop in the first place when it is the thing that bedevils her agreement?” he said.

DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson said the Taoiseach’s remarks had revealed that the entire premise of the backstop was based on “a foundation of sand” and accused the prime minister of scare tactics.

“There will be no checks along the Irish Border; therefore there will be no threat to peace in Northern Ireland; therefore there will be no disruption to the island of Ireland,” he said.

‘Wholly inappropriate’

The prime minister chaired an emergency cabinet meeting on Monday morning to discuss how to proceed with Brexit after EU leaders set a new series of deadlines last week. Mrs May made clear at the meeting that parliament would not allow Britain to leave the EU without a deal.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group (ERG) of Conservative Brexiteers, told a meeting of the group on Monday night that he would vote for Mrs May’s deal if the DUP backed it. But other Brexiteers have ruled out supporting the deal and Mrs May’s statement last week blaming MPs for the deadlock over Brexit has alienated some potential supporters on the Labour benches.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn condemned the statement as a “wholly inappropriate” attack on MPs for doing their job of holding the government to account.

“In a climate of heightened emotions where MPs on all sides have received threats and intimidation I hope the prime minister will reflect and think again about making such dangerous and irresponsible statements,” he said.