May fights to win Brexit vote as Tory rebels reject sop
LONDON: As the clock ticks ahead of Tuesday’s vote on the Brexit agreement in the House of Commons, Conservative Party rebels rejected an overture from Prime Minister Theresa May to give MPs a new role in the withdrawal process in order to enlist their support.
May’s amendment relates to the so-called “backstop” arrangement in the agreement for Northern Ireland, which envisages the UK tied to European Union rules if a trade pact is not signed with the bloc by December 2020, the end of the Brexit transition period.
The rebels and Northern Ireland-based Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) want to scrap the “backstop” altogether, since they see it as tying the UK to EU rules for an indefinite period. The DUP is propping up the minority May government in London.
After May suggested that MPs could be “given a role” in deciding whether to activate the backstop, Conservative Brexiteer Steve Baker said: “Giving Parliament the choice between the devil and the deep blue sea is desperate and will persuade very few.”
DUP leader Arlene Foster tweeted: “Domestic legislative tinkering won’t cut it. The legally binding international withdrawal treaty would remain fundamentally flawed, as evidenced by the attorney general’s legal advice.”
In the face of the near impossibility of the agreement being passed on Tuesday, May remained hopeful, dispatching her ministers across the UK to canvass support from the people and MPs.
Government departments have put in place emergency measures to deal with a situation in which the UK leaves the EU on March 29, 2019 without a deal or arrangement to replace the current congruence of rules and regulations with the 28-nation bloc.
If there is no alternative arrangement in place on March 30, 2019, current EU rules applicable to all aspects of life in the UK will no longer be in force, affecting everyday life.
■ An anti-Brexit demonstrator holds placards as he protests outside the British Parliament in London.