May vows to go ahead with crunch vote
THERESA May vowed to push ahead with the crunch vote on her Brexit deal despite Cabinet ministers urging her to delay it to avoid a catastrophic defeat.
The Prime Minister defied hardening opposition from Tory rebels and the DUP to make another impassioned plea for MPs to get on board with her plan.
She warned there is no other option on the table, and killing her proposal off would either end up with the UK crashing out of the EU - or Brexit not happening at all.
In an interview on Thursday, Mrs May said her fear was that “Parliament in some way frustrates Brexit”.
The premier also confirmed that she is looking at ways to sweeten her blueprint for mutinous MPs - suggesting there could be a parliamentary “lock” on the Irish border backstop arrangements coming into force.
Asked repeatedly about calls from senior ministers to put off the Commons showdown on Tuesday, Mrs May said: “We are in the middle of five days of debate in Parliament which will lead up to a vote on this issue.”
Cabinet rebels asking to postpone vote
Downing Street said Mrs May was discussing with MPs a “greater role” for Parliament on the next steps as Britain goes through transition.
Pressed what her “Plan B” is for what happens after what looks like an inevitable disaster, she said: “That question is for those who want to oppose this deal.”
Mrs May made clear that the Withdrawal Agreement she has thrashed out with Brussels is effectively locked in - but insisted she is “listening” to concerns from MPs.
She confirmed the government is considering a range of measures to make the Irish “backstop” more palatable to her mutinous backbenchers. Proposals include placing a parliamentary “lock” on the backstop.
“The backstop is not automatic. I'm looking at the role of Parliament in that choice,” Mrs May said.
The alternative would be to extend the transition period beyond December 2020 - but the Withdrawal Agreement states that can only last until 2022. After that point the backstop would come into force under the divorce terms.
Parliament will get to vote on whether to extend transition in June 2020 or to enter the backstop - subject to a final agreement with the EU - if trade talks are unfinished.
Theresa May considering concessions including Commons lock on Irish border backstop.