The shape of Brexit and Mrs May’s job are on the line | Politics News


A momentous day in Parliament will see MPs vote on up to 16 Brexit options and Theresa May pleading for her deal and her own job.

The Prime Minister will be left almost powerless as MPs stage a series of so-called “indicative votes” on Brexit in the House of Commons.

At the same time, she will appeal once again to wavering MPs – at Prime Minister’s Questions and later at a meeting of Tory backbenchers – to back her Brexit deal.

But at the meeting of the backbench 1922 Committee the PM will also face demands from Conservative MPs to spell out a timetable for her departure from Downing Street.

Nigel Evans, a joint executive secretary of the 1922 Committee, told Sky News: “If the Prime Minister announces a timetable of departure, I think that’s going to swing a lot of people behind her deal, we could get it over the line.”

The motions to be voted on today by MPs – not in the division lobbies as usual but in paper ballots – include calls for a second referendum, UK membership of a customs union and revoking Article 50.

Speaker John Bercow will select those to be voted on and it is likely there will be further debates and votes next Monday – April Fool’s Day – on the most popular options.

The key motions among 16 tabled by MPs are:
:: Customs union and single market (Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn);
:: Permanent customs union (Ken Clarke and Hilary Benn);
:: People’s Vote (Labour grandee Dame Margaret Beckett);
:: “Norway model” (Former Defra minister George Eustice);
:: Revoke Article 50 (SNP’s Joanna Cherry)
:: “Malthouse compromise” on alternatives to the NI backstop (Treasury Select Committee chair Nicky Morgan);
:: Public vote on deal passed by MPs (Labour MPs Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson).

While the votes on the Brexit options are being counted, MPs will vote – in a traditional division lobby vote – on ratifying the postponement of Brexit from this Friday, 29 March, until 12 April or 22 May, as agreed with the EU.

Veteran Euro-sceptic Sir Bill Cash has written to Mrs May complaining that the vote is illegal, because it uses the Royal Prerogative (unlawful with regard to European treaties), violates the Vienna Convention and requires an Act of Parliament.

The Prime Minister, meanwhile, is continuing her meetings with MPs in the hope of bringing a third “meaningful vote” on her Brexit deal back to the Commons on Thursday or Friday.

And in a major boost for the Prime Minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg – who leads the European Research Group of Conservative MPs – writes in the Daily Mail that he will back her deal if the Democratic Unionist Party supports it.

“I apologise for changing my mind,” he writes. “Theresa May’s deal is a bad one, it does not deliver on the promises made in the Tory Party manifesto and its negotiation was a failure of statesmanship.

“A £39 billion bill for nothing, a minimum of 21 months of vassalage, the continued involvement of the European Court and, worst of all, a backstop with no end date.

“Yet, I am now willing to support it if the Democratic Unionist Party does, and by doing so will be accused of infirmity of purpose by some and treachery by others.

“I have come to this view because the numbers in parliament make it clear that all the other potential outcomes are worse and an awkward reality needs to be faced.”

Boris Johnson, speaking at a Daily Telegraph event in London, also hinted he was edging towards supporting the deal, but told his audience he was not there yet.

“If we vote it down again, for the third time, there is now, I think, an appreciable risk that we will not leave at all,” he said.

Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Mr Johnson he said he was not yet ready to fall into line.

“There’s no point in supporting this deal without any sign the UK is going to change its approach in phase two,” he said.

“I don’t think people understand the second phase of the negotiations is really far more important than the first.

“This first phase has gone, I think, very badly – we risk ending up in this terrible backstop.

“We need to see a real sign that the second phase, which will begin at the back end of this year, will be very different and we won’t be trapped in the customs union and we won’t be trapped in regulatory alignment with the EU, with no say on these things.

“That’s the crucial thing for me.”

He added: “I think it’s still possible that we could go for no deal. But what I want to hear is that, if this withdrawal agreement is to make any sense at all, then there’s got to be a massive change in the UK’s negotiating approach.”

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