Fail­ure to de­liver Brexit will be cat­a­strophic: May

Mint ST - - POLICY - AFP feed­[email protected] LON­DON

British PM warns MPS ahead of par­lia­men­tary vote on the deal on Tues­day

British Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May on Sun­day warned MPS ready to re­ject her Euro­pean Union (EU) divorce deal this week that fail­ing to de­liver Brexit would be a “cat­a­strophic and un­for­giv­able breach of trust in our democ­racy”.

May is fight­ing doggedly to save her with­drawal agree­ment—forged dur­ing 18 months of gru­elling ne­go­ti­a­tions with Euro­pean lead­ers—from a crush­ing de­feat in par­lia­ment on Tues­day.

The em­bat­tled leader said some vot­ers in Bri­tain’s 2016 ref­er­en­dum on EU mem­ber­ship had trusted politi­cians “for the first time in decades” and law­mak­ers must not let them down by now scup­per­ing Brexit.

“Do­ing so would be a cat­a­strophic and un­for­giv­able breach of trust in our democ­racy,” May wrote in the Sun­day Ex­press news­pa­per.

“So my mes­sage to par­lia­ment this week­end is sim­ple: it is time to for­get the games and do what is right for our coun­try.”

Bri­tain is set to leave the Euro­pean Union on 29 March but, with less than 11 weeks left, has yet to fi­nal­ize the terms of its de­par­ture.

May’s deal agrees a 21-month tran­si­tion pe­riod un­der cur­rent terms while the fu­ture re­la­tion­ship with the bloc is ne­go­ti­ated, but it has drawn stead­fast op­po­si­tion from both Brex­i­teers and Re­main­ers.

The prime min­is­ter has said re­ject­ing it will throw Bri­tain into “un­charted ter­ri­tory” and put the coun­try at risk of crash­ing out with­out an agree­ment, or even no Brexit at all.

The op­po­si­tion Labour Party, which favours re­main­ing in a per­ma­nent cus- toms union with the EU, has sug­gested it will seek a no-con­fi­dence vote in the gov­ern­ment if MPS throw out the plan.

The Ob­server news­pa­per re­ported Sun­day that its law­mak­ers have been told it could be tabled “within hours” of that on Tues­day, with the con­fi­dence vote to be held the fol­low­ing day.

If the gov­ern­ment lose a no-con­fi­dence mo­tion, there will be a pe­riod of 14 days in which par­ties can seek to find an al­ter­na­tive work­ing ma­jor­ity in par­lia­ment.

If they fail to do so, a gen­eral elec­tion would be called.

“We will ta­ble a mo­tion of no-con­fi­dence in the gov­ern­ment at a time of our choos­ing, but it’s go­ing to be soon, don’t worry about it,” Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn told the BBC on Sun­day.

Cor­byn con­ceded if the party won power, par­lia­ment would likely need to de­lay Brexit be­yond 29 March so it could rene­go­ti­ate the with­drawal agree­ment.

The prime min­is­ter al­ready postponed a House of Com­mons vote on her plan in De­cem­ber to avoid de­feat—and MPS look set to re­ject it again on Tues­day.

Law­mak­ers who be­lieve it ei­ther leaves Bri­tain too close or too dis­tant from the bloc, fired omi­nous warn­ing shots this week, vot­ing to force the prime min­is­ter to quickly set out an al­ter­na­tive plan for Brexit if she loses the vote.

It was her sec­ond set­back in 24 hours after MPS also voted to deny the gov­ern­ment cer­tain tax­a­tion pow­ers in a no-deal sce­nario—in a bid to avoid such an out­come.

The Sun­day Times said a group of se­nior cross-party back­bench rebels are now plot­ting to change House of Com­mons rules to en­able them to over­ride gov­ern­ment busi­ness if the deal falls.

De­scribed as “a very British coup”, the plan would see May lose con­trol of par­lia­men­tary busi­ness to MPS, threat­en­ing her abil­ity to gov­ern, the news­pa­per said.

It said Down­ing Street was “ex­tremely con­cerned” about the pos­si­bil­ity, which could see law­mak­ers then de­lay Brexit through new leg­is­la­tion.

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