Plot to stop Brexit 'would be most grievous error' by politicians

Ministers threatened to resign if UK leader failed to rule out no-deal Brexit

British prime minister Theresa May said she would bring her deal back to the House of Commons for a “meaningful vote” by March 12th. Photograph: Getty Images

British prime minister Theresa May said she would bring her deal back to the House of Commons for a “meaningful vote” by March 12th. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Theresa May has promised MPs that if they reject her Brexit deal next month, they will be able to vote to delay Brexit rather than leave the European Union without a deal.

The UK prime minister, who has until now insisted that Britain would leave the EU on March 29th with or without a deal, said she would bring her deal back to the House of Commons for a “meaningful vote” by March 12th.

  If they reject the deal, MPs will vote by March 13th on leaving the EU without a deal and if they reject that option, they will vote on March 14th on whether to extend the article 50 negotiating deadline.

Mrs May said that any extension should be as short as possible, warning that it would not simply serve to postpone the cliff-edge of a no-deal Brexit.

“An extension beyond the end of June would mean the UK taking part in the European Parliament elections. What kind of message would that send to the more than 17 million people who voted to leave the EU nearly three years ago now?” she asked.

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“And the house should be clear that a short extension – not beyond the end of June – would almost certainly have to be a one-off.  If we had not taken part in the European Parliament elections, it would be extremely difficult to extend again, so it would create a much sharper cliff-edge in a few months’ time.”

No-deal Brexit

Mrs May’s decision to give MPs an opportunity to delay Brexit came after a number of ministers threatened to resign if she failed to rule out a no-deal Brexit on March 29th.

Some were planning to vote for an amendment tabled by Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Conservative Oliver Letwin that would allow MPs to take control of the parliamentary agenda to compel the prime minister to seek an extension to the article 50 negotiating deadline.

Sir Oliver said the prime minister’s statement on Tuesday meant there was no need for the amendment, but Ms Cooper suggested she would seek further assurances.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, who chairs the European Research Group of Conservative Brexiteers, warned that postponing could undermine democracy.

“If it’s being delayed, which is my suspicion, as a plot to stop Brexit altogether, then I think that would be the most grievous error that politicians could commit. It would be overthrowing a referendum result, two general elections – one to call for the referendum, one to endorse the referendum – and would undermine our democracy,” he said.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said after a meeting in Downing Street on Tuesday afternoon that the prime minister should deliver on her commitment to seek legally binding changes to the Northern Ireland backstop. 

“A no-deal outcome can be avoided and it can be agreed long before the 29th of March. The European Union have it in their hands to avoid such an outcome. They know exactly what is required to achieve a deal which parliament can support. It’s time for Dublin and Brussels to be in a deal-making mode,” she said.

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