Will anyone in Parliament back Theresa May’s Brexit plan?
PM ‘confronted by enemies on all sides’ as she fights to get deal through Commons
Theresa May is fighting to keep her party intact and her cabinet on side amid mounting speculation over whether her Brexit deal with the EU will come to fruition.
As the London Evening Standard reports, the prime minister “was confronted by enemies on all sides” today during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQ), despite appealing to ministers to swallow their doubts and back a 460-page draft withdrawal agreement “in the national interest”.
“We will take back control of our borders, our laws and our money, leave the Common Fisheries Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy, while protecting jobs, security and the integrity of our United Kingdom,” she told the House of Commons.
But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was “immediately scathing”, says The Guardian. “After two years of bungled negotiations, from what we know of the Government’s deal it’s a failure in its own terms,” he said.
“It doesn’t deliver a Brexit to the whole country, it breaches the prime minister’s own red lines, it doesn’t deliver a strong economic deal that supports jobs and industry. And we know they haven’t prepared seriously for no deal,” Corbyn added.
May has been holding an emergency meeting of her cabinet today that she hopes will result in a united front. She is urging ministers to back a deal that she has privately admitted “had not achieved all Britain’s demands” but insists is “the best deal the country is able to get”, says the Standard.
If it is signed off by the EU, MPs could vote on the Brexit deal within less than a month, according to the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg.
But pro-Leave cabinet ministers have been under pressure to reject the deal, as senior Brexiteers and the DUP line up to dismiss it as “an abject surrender”, reports The Times.
For the DUP, the key problem is that the deal contains a deeper level of alignment for Northern Ireland than the rest of the UK.
“That is unacceptable to the DUP so you can strike ten votes off the Government’s majority right off the bat, three more than the seven needed to eliminate the Conservative-DUP majority”, says the New Statesman’s Stephen Bush.
A further stumbling block was highlighted by Corbyn at PMQs, when he asked May whether the UK parliament would have the unilateral right to leave any backstop arrangement that might be put in place to prevent a hard Irish border, a key demand of many Tory Brexiteers.
In response, the PM simply said that she was “aware of the concerns”, prompting Corbyn to retort: “I think that non-answer has confirmed that Parliament won’t have that sovereign right.”
However, May does have the backing of her party’s former leader William Hague, who told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the Remainer rebels’ threat of a second referendum should focus Brexiteer minds. “If you don’t take this opportunity to leave, to get this over the line, you might never leave at all,” he said.
May will also be buoyed by reports that splits are emerging among the so-called rebel alliance, with around half a dozen MPs who have previously voted against the Government on Brexit “thought likely to back the prime minister’s plan despite their misgivings”, says The Guardian’s Pippa Crerar.
One unnamed MP, who is “certain to vote against the plan”, told the newspaper: “I have several colleagues who recognise that the proposal has serious flaws but are getting cold feet the closer we get to a vote. They are definitely teetering.”