Ahead of vote, UK PM May warns it would be cat­a­strophic to halt Brexit

Par­lia­ment di­vided as clock ticks to­wards exit date

Kuwait Times - - International -

LON­DON: British Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May warned law­mak­ers yes­ter­day that fail­ing to de­liver Brexit would be cat­a­strophic for democ­racy, in a plea for sup­port two days be­fore par­lia­ment is ex­pected to re­ject her deal with Brus­sels. With the clock tick­ing down to its March 29 exit from the Euro­pean Union and par­lia­ment dead­locked, Bri­tain faces a hugely un­cer­tain path that could lead to a dis­or­derly exit or even re­main­ing in the bloc.

May, who postponed a vote in par­lia­ment on her deal in De­cem­ber after ad­mit­ting she was set to lose it, said law­mak­ers must not let down the peo­ple who backed Brexit in a June 2016 ref­er­en­dum. “Do­ing so would be a cat­a­strophic and un­for­giv­able breach of trust in our democ­racy,” she wrote in 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.”

May has so far re­fused to re­treat from her un­pop­u­lar deal, which en­vis­ages close trad­ing ties with the EU, but with­out any say on pol­icy as Bri­tain has now. The vexed Brexit is­sue rep­re­sents Bri­tain’s big­gest shift in for­eign and trade pol­icy in more than 40 years. May’s deal has come un­der fire from all sides — with op­po­nents of the EU seek­ing a cleaner break and many proEuro­peans press­ing for a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum. May is ex­pected to suf­fer a big de­feat when par­lia­ment votes to­mor­row.

Brexit min­is­ter Stephen Bar­clay told BBC TV that per­suad­ing enough law­mak­ers to sup­port the deal would be “chal­leng­ing” but that even if it was re­jected, he sus­pected par­lia­ment would ul­ti­mately sup­port some­thing “along the lines of this deal”. Op­po­si­tion Labour Party leader Jeremy Cor­byn said leav­ing the EU with­out a deal would be cat­a­strophic and his party would do ev­ery­thing it could to pre­vent that out­come. How­ever, Cor­byn’s pri­or­ity is to force a na­tional elec­tion and he said he would pro­pose a vote of con­fi­dence in the gov­ern­ment “soon” if May loses to­mor­row.

Par­lia­ment flexes mus­cles

After a week in which par­lia­ment forced the gov­ern­ment to prom­ise to come back with a ‘plan B’ within days if May’s deal is re­jected, Bar­clay said the risk of par­lia­ment act­ing in a way that frus­trates Brexit had in­creased. The Sun­day Times re­ported that rebel law­mak­ers were plan­ning to wrest con­trol of the leg­isla­tive agenda away from May next week with a view to sus­pend­ing or de­lay­ing Brexit, cit­ing a se­nior gov­ern­ment source.

Vince Ca­ble, the leader of the pro-EU Lib­eral Democrats, said par­lia­ment would act to pre­vent a no deal Brexit, and could ul­ti­mately seek to pre­vent Brexit al­to­gether. “I think par­lia­ment will take con­trol of this process, will in­sist that we pur­sue the op­tion of no Brexit,” he told BBC TV. Ca­ble said this could be done by re­vok­ing Ar­ti­cle 50, the mech­a­nism which trig­gered the exit process, or by hold­ing a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum.

Asked about the prospect of an­other ref­er­en­dum, Labour leader Cor­byn told BBC TV: “My own view is that I would rather get a ne­go­ti­ated deal now, if we can, to stop the dan­ger of a no-deal exit from the EU on the 29th of March which would be cat­a­strophic for in­dus­try, cat­a­strophic for trade.” Cor­byn said that if he forced a na­tional elec­tion and his party won, Brexit may have to be de­layed while they ne­go­ti­ated a new deal with the EU. “An elec­tion would take place what Fe­bru­ary-March time, clearly there is only a few weeks then be­tween that and the leave date, there would have to be a time for those ne­go­ti­a­tions,” he added. — Reuters

SUN­DER­LAND: In this file photo taken on Oc­to­ber 25, 2016 a man walks his dog past graf­fiti. — AFP

KHARTOUM: A pic­ture taken on Jan­uary 13, 2019 shows anti-gov­ern­ment demon­stra­tors in the Su­dani cap­i­tal. —AFP

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