May to risk all on Brexit vote

The Sunday Times - - NEWS - ELLEN WHINNETT LON­DON

PRIME Min­is­ter Theresa May is un­der ex­treme pres­sure to de­lay a par­lia­men­tary vote on her Brexit deal, amid fears it may face such a crush­ing de­feat it could bring the Tory Gov­ern­ment down.

Mrs May is hold­ing firm and in­sist­ing she will put her deal to the House of Com­mons early on Wed­nes­day Perth time, say­ing the only op­tions are her deal, a no-deal Brexit, or no Brexit at all.

The deal, which would hand al­most $70 bil­lion in on-go­ing pay­ments to the EU while also po­ten­tially ty­ing the UK to the EU in­def­i­nitely through a cob­bled-to­gether cus­toms back-stop, have failed to find favour with both Brexit sup­port­ers and those who wanted to stay in the EU.

There are also fears it would cre­ate tax dif­fer­ences be­tween the UK and North­ern Ire­land, mean­ing the Demo­cratic Union­ist Party, which props up Mrs May’s mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment, is re­fus­ing to sup­port it.

If the vote is de­feated by more than 100 votes in the 650-seat House of Com­mons — a sce­nario that looks likely — MPs and aides fear Mrs May’s au­thor­ity will be so dam­aged she will have to re­sign.

Tory whips are try­ing to win over scep­ti­cal MPs by warn­ing them a no-deal Brexit would be cat­a­strophic for the econ­omy, but Labour claims Mrs May is bluff­ing and will not al­low the coun­try to crash out with­out a deal.

Lead­ing Brex­i­teer Boris John­son said Mrs May’s deal: “Hands the EU the in­def­i­nite power to bully and black­mail this coun­try to get what­ever it wants in the fu­ture ne­go­ti­a­tions. It is quite in­cred­i­ble that any gov­ern­ment could agree to such terms. They re­sem­ble the kind of dik­tat that might be im­posed on a na­tion that has suf­fered a mil­i­tary de­feat.’’

Busi­nesses ex­port­ing into Europe are be­ing urged to act now to pre­pare for a no-deal exit, while phar­ma­cists na­tion­wide have drawn up plans to ra­tion medicines, fear­ing sup­ply short­ages.

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