Ahead of a House of Commons vote on Tuesday, Theresa May is making a last-ditch bid to save her Brexit deal. She asked Members of parliament to support her new deal or run the risk of being unable to ever leave the European Union.
A cohort of Tory Brexiteers and the DUP have both rejected the deal. They say the legal assurances secured by Theresa May will not prevent the UK having no choice but to exist permanently within the EU.
The European Research Group have commented: 'In the light of our own legal analysis and others we do not recommend accepting the government's motion today'. The DUP said 'that sufficient progress has not been achieved at this time'.
Theresa May has said 'The danger for those of us who want to have faith in the British public and deliver on their vote for Brexit, is that if this vote is not passed tonight, if this deal is not passed, then Brexit could be lost'.
Charles Walker commented that if the government does not pass their deal in the vote later then it would lead to a general election.
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said the high chance of being tied to the EU after Brexit 'remains unchanged'. He also said, however, that new pledges from the EU ‘reduce the risk that the United Kingdom could be indefinitely and involuntarily detained' in the Irish backstop if talks on the two sides future relationship broke down due to ‘bad faith’. He defined ‘bad faith’ as ‘a pattern of refusing to accept reasonable proposals’ on the topic of the Irish backstop. He also stated that it is a ‘political judgement’ as to whether a permanent trading relationship could be established after Brexit, and urged MPs to back the deal.
Geoffrey Cox said that ‘the legal risk remains unchanged’ regarding the fact that if, due to ‘intractable differences’, an agreement for trade after Brexit can’t be reached, the UK would have ‘no internationally lawful' means of leaving the backstop without the EU's permission. Mr Cox later said to The House of Commons that: ‘Were such a situation to occur, let me make it clear, the legal risk as I set it out in my letter of November 13 remains unchanged'.
He said also said around the same time that it would be in neither side's political interests to allow the U.K. to be indefinitely committed to the EU via the backstop.(1)
Mrs May's withdrawal agreement was voted down by Parliament by a margin of 230 votes. Laura Kuenssberg said it would be a 'political miracle of historic proportions' if the Prime Minister could reverse such a massive defeat. In a bid to change the opinions of those opposed to her deal, Theresa May met with a group of Conservative MPs prior to the vote.
BBC's Chief Political Correspondent Vicky Young remarked that Conservative MPs leaving the meeting said half of those who didn’t vote for the deal last time will switch to support it, and Grant Shapps said Theresa May ‘needed the DUP’ to throw their support behind her deal because the voting margins would be tight.
Amber Rudd said she thoug May’s deal would pass in the Commons: 'I think she's going to win tonight, I think we're all going to win tonight. Otherwise instability will follow which would be so unwelcome’.(2) Sir Keir Starmer said ‘The government's strategy is now in tatters’.
Mrs May went to the European Parliament along with Steve Barclay for last-ditch talks with Mr Juncker and Michel Barnier where the content of documents were agreed.
Keeping the country in a customs agreement with the European Union was something many MPs feared, but Theresa May has urged MPs to support the ‘improved deal’ she has devised because the new documents addresses this issue of the backstop.
British Members of Parliament were warned by Mr Juncker that they would be putting a lot at risk if they acted to ensure the deal was voted down. Juncker stated ‘in politics sometimes you get a second chance. It is what we do with that second chance that counts. There will be no third chance.’
A 'meaningful vote' on the deal will take place in the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday. A second vote has been pledged for Wednesday on whether the UK should leave without a deal if the deal Theresa May is proposing is rejected. If that no-deal option is rejected, MPs will get a vote on Thursday on whether to request a delay to Brexit from the EU.(3)