Theresa May offers ministers 'meaningful vote' if no Brexit deal

Clay Curtis
February 12, 2019

May will promise lawmakers a second opportunity to influence the Brexit talks later in the month in a bid to stave off any rebellion from within her own party by those who fear Britain could end up leaving without a deal. Foremost was a demand that May seek a "permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union".

Downing Street attempted to defuse the row after the Prime Minister failed to rule out further talks on a customs union in a letter to Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader.

Mr Corbyn's demand is for a customs union that gives the United Kingdom a say on future trade deals the EU might strike - something Brussels appears unlikely to accept.

I think you would need to have a time limit.

"It is very clear from the European Union that non-EU members do not have a say in EU trade policy so to pretend that you could do so is a unsafe delusion".

Brexit minister Stephen Barclay will meet European Union negotiator Michel Barnier on Monday to discuss changes to the part of the exit deal relating to the "backstop", an insurance policy against the return of a hard border between European Union member Ireland and British-ruled Northern Ireland. During his speech, Mr Johnson said: "I don't think there is any mileage for Theresa May or the Government in trying to a do a deal with Labour".

It also follows an exchange of letters between Mrs May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Some of her cabinet members also quashed the idea, with International Trade Secretary Liam Fox calling Mr Corbyn's proposal a "dangerous delusion".

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"I absolutely do not think that should be our policy", she told Sky News on Sunday.

Mr Corbyn has repeatedly said there should be an election if Mrs May can not get a deal through Parliament and he has faced concerted pressure from some in his party to push for a second public vote.

If no deal on the changes to the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement has been reached with Brussels by Wednesday, as seems overwhelmingly likely, Mrs May will address MPs on progress made, say more time is needed for negotiations, and table a "neutral motion" for debate the following day.

There appears little prospect of an imminent breakthrough with Brussels, and Mrs May might not bring her deal back for a decisive vote this month.

Britain is due to leave the European Union on 29 March but has yet to find a deal which is acceptable to both Brussels and lawmakers at home, raising the prospect of a disorderly exit that could damage the world's fifth largest economy.

Labour's Brexit policy chief Keir Starmer told the Sunday Times newspaper that his party would seek to use the debate in parliament this week to prevent May from waiting until the last minute to come back with a deal, and compel her to present a fresh accord for lawmakers to consider before February 26.

She'll say that if she hasn't brought them new deal by February 27, there will then be another opportunity to vote, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire confirmed in an interview.

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