We must 'hold our nerve' on Brexit, May to tell MPs

Daniel Fowler
February 13, 2019

As we talked about late on Monday, there has been a sense building in Westminster that the prime minister is, maybe by accident, maybe increasingly by design, looking to nearly the last possible minute for the definitive Brexit vote.

Commons Leader Andrea said on BBC radio that May was not simply "running down the clock" until March 29.

Chief EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said Monday that "something has to give" on the British side to secure an orderly Brexit.

"Parliament must have a much stronger and clearer role in the next phase of the negotiations", she said.

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"Today the response of the Brexiteers is non, non, non et non. No, no and no.' There aren't any alternative proposals from them".

"We want to leave with a deal and that is what we are working for", she said.

Mrs May told the House of Commons that talks were at "a crucial stage" to secure the changes demanded by MPs that would allow the United Kingdom to leave the European Union on March 29.

Last week, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn set out five conditions for his party's backing of the prime minister's withdrawal agreement. For Corbyn and many seasoned British statesmen, a no-deal exit from the European Union would be catastrophic for the country.

"I agree that the longer this goes on, the more risky it gets, obviously", Stewart said.

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In the past, Corbyn repeatedly called for a general election should the prime minister fail to get a deal approved by Parliament.

She appeared to open up the possibility that MPs might in the end be asked to vote at a moment of peak jeopardy, and that ministers might be willing to let the matter run that long.

Time pressure is mounting.

The EU last week rebuffed Mrs May's efforts to renegotiate a deal that she secured previous year but was later overwhelmingly rejected by MPs. Now, May is left with few choices; either one of which is disastrous for her nation: Either shooting herself in the foot by ending up with Brexit without a deal, or just as bad risk undermining the Good Friday Agreement on Ireland.

Mrs May is to give a statement to Parliament on Tuesday, a day earlier than planned.

Brexit debate will reopen in Parliament tomorrow, though, giving lawmakers the opportunity to propose alternatives to Ms May's deal.

Figures released this week showed the British economy barely expanding at the end of previous year, as business investment, manufacturing output and construction all declined.

The Office for National Statistics said the British economy grew by a quarterly rate of only 0.2 percent during the fourth quarter, down from the 0.6 percent uptick recorded in the previous three-month period. Business investment dropped by 3.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2018, the fourth consecutive quarterly decline.

With less than 50 days to go to Brexit day on March 29, British firms still have no idea what the country's new trading relationship with the European Union will look like, so they're taking a safety-first approach.

Pro-Brexit campaigners in her Conservative Party are threatening to vote against their government in protest however, a move that would weaken May's argument to the European Union that she can win a vote in parliament if Brussels agrees to change the deal.

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