May warns of ‘cat­a­strophic’ im­pact

U.K. Par­lia­ment to vote Tues­day amid di­vide on Brexit deal with EU

Toronto Star - - WORLD - DAN­ICA KIRKA

LON­DON— British Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May warned Sun­day that law­mak­ers risk un­der­min­ing the pub­lic’s faith in democ­racy if they re­ject her divorce deal with the Euro­pean Union in a vote set for Tues­day. May said some mem­bers of Par­lia­ment were play­ing po­lit­i­cal games with the Brexit de­bate. Law­mak­ers, she said, should re­spect the re­sults of the 2016 ref­er­en­dum in which 52 per cent of vot­ers backed leav­ing the EU.

Fail­ing to do so “would be a cat­a­strophic and un­for­giv­able breach of trust in our democ­racy,” she wrote in a com­men­tary pub­lished by the Sun­day Ex­press. “So my mes­sage to Par­lia­ment this week­end is sim­ple: it is time to for­get the games and do what is right for our coun­try.”

The gov­ern­ment also tried to pres­sure re­sis­tant law­mak­ers by say­ing their re­fusal to fall in line could re­sult in Bri­tain re­main­ing a mem­ber of the EU. Brexit Sec­re­tary Steve Bar­clay warned Sun­day of the grow­ing risk that Par­lia­ment could block Brexit al­to­gether.

The prime min­is­ter’s of­fice also said it was “ex­tremely con­cerned” about re­ports that some mem­bers of Par­lia­ment would try to seize con­trol of Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions if the agree­ment May’s gov­ern­ment reached with the EU is de­feated.

The Sun­day Times news­pa­per re­ported that se­nior law­mak­ers in­tend to try to change the rules of the House of Com­mons so they can wrest con­trol of the leg­isla­tive agenda from the gov­ern­ment.

The prime min­is­ter faces wide­spread op­po­si­tion to the ex­ist­ing agree­ment, pri­mar­ily be­cause of lan­guage de­signed to pre­vent the rein­tro­duc­tion of phys­i­cal bor­der con­trols be­tween North­ern Ire­land, which is part of the U.K., and the Repub­lic of Ire­land, a mem­ber of the EU.

Law­mak­ers on all sides of the Brexit de­bate fear the so-called North­ern Ire­land back­stop could leave Bri­tain tied to the EU in­def­i­nitely.

May postponed a vote on the deal in mid-De­cem­ber when a re­sound­ing de­feat was clear. She now is urg­ing Par­lia­ment to sup­port it so Bri­tain doesn’t leave the EU on March 29 with­out a deal, which would threaten trade, jobs and eco­nomic growth. While a ma­jor­ity of the 650-seat House of Com­mons ap­pears to op­pose leav­ing the EU with no deal, there is no agree­ment on what al­ter­na­tive to pur­sue.

The BBC es­ti­mates that May’s deal is likely to be sup­ported by about 240 law­mak­ers, far short of the num­ber needed for pas­sage.

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