May to make last-ditch plea over Brexit deal

‘Catas­tro­phe’ if not backed, PM claims

Bangkok Post - - NATIONAL -

LON­DON: Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May was set yes­ter­day to re­peat week­end warn­ings to MPs poised to re­ject her EU divorce deal that fail­ing to de­liver Brexit would be “cat­a­strophic” for British democ­racy. On the eve of to­day’s monumental vote in par­lia­ment on her with­drawal agree­ment — forged from 18 months of gru­elling ne­go­ti­a­tions with Euro­pean lead­ers — Ms May is set to ad­dress fac­tory work­ers in Stoke, a Brexit-back­ing city in cen­tral Eng­land. The em­bat­tled leader, who is widely ex­pected to lose the House of Com­mons vote by a wide mar­gin, will make a fi­nal bid for sup­port by ar­gu­ing: “We all have a duty to im­ple­ment the re­sult of the ref­er­en­dum. “I ask MPs to con­sider the con­se­quences of their ac­tions on the faith of the British peo­ple in our democ­racy,” Ms May is ex­pected to say, ac­cord­ing to ex­cerpts of her speech re­leased by her of­fice. “What if we found our­selves in a sit­u­a­tion where par­lia­ment tried to take the UK out of the EU in op­po­si­tion to a re­main vote?” she will ask. “Peo­ple’s faith in the demo­cratic process and their politi­cians would suf­fer cat­a­strophic harm.” Bri­tain is set to leave the Euro­pean Union on March 29 but, with less than 11 weeks left, has yet to fi­nalise the terms of its de­par­ture. Ms 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 cus­toms 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 on Sun­day that its law­mak­ers have been told it could be tabled “within hours” of that to­day, 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. Mr Cor­byn con­ceded that if the party won power, par­lia­ment would likely need to de­lay Brexit be­yond March 29 so it could rene­go­ti­ate the with­drawal agree­ment. The prime min­is­ter has al­ready pre­vi­ously post­poned a House of Com­mons vote on her plan in De­cem­ber to avoid de­feat — and MPs look set to re­ject it again to­day. 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.


Pro­test­ers wear­ing yel­low vests wait to par­tic­i­pate in an anti-Brexit demon­stra­tion march in cen­tral Lon­don on Sat­ur­day.

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