May appeals direct to the voters in bid to sway MPs
THERESA MAY has made an impassioned appeal in an open letter to the nation asking the public to back her deal with the EU.
With a historic Brussels summit under way today where Mrs May and the leaders of the 27 members of the EU are due to sign the Withdrawal Agreement, the Prime Minister promised “a brighter future” awaits the country if MPs accept her proposal.
She hopes voter pressure will persuade waverers in Parliament to vote her way. But in a warning to the Government in today’s Sunday Express, Jacob Rees-Mogg has said that he and many other Brexiteers will not support the deal in the Commons vote, expected on Wednesday, December 12.
In a sign that the EU had reluctantly agreed to the deal, European Council President Donald Tusk sent out formal invitation letters to EU leaders for the summit, saying the Brexit deal reached by negotiators from the UK and Brussels “found the best possible compromise”. He said: “I will recommend that we approve on Sunday the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.
“No-one has reasons to be happy. But at least at this critical time, the EU27 has passed the test of unity and solidarity.”
Meanwhile, in Belfast Boris Johnson told the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) that the Northern Ireland backstop which could keep Britain under Brussels rule for years to come must be ditched. He compared the deal to the Titanic, adding: “Now is the time to point to the iceberg ahead.”
Mrs May’s attempt to win over the public came amid growing evidence yesterday she will struggle to win support in Parliament for the deal with both Tory Leavers and Remainers vowing to oppose it. Writing for the Sunday Express website MP Ben Bradley, who became the first Tory to win Mansfield last year, warned that the deal could lose the party Leave supporting seats like his.
Remainer Tory MP Phillip Lee, who hopes defeat in the Commons will lead to a second referendum, yesterday tweeted: “The government’s claim that a vote against the Withdrawal Agreement will let in Corbyn and his team couldn’t
be more wrong. What will let them in is pushing through a ‘deal’ unwanted by Remainers and reviled by Leavers without giving the people a final say.”
DUP leader Arlene Foster confirmed that her party opposes the deal and will review its confidence and supply arrangement with the Conservatives.
ERG sources have said at least 40 Brexiteer Tories are set to rebel while it is thought up to 12 Remainer Tories could also vote against the deal. Downing Street sources have said they believe “we will win the vote” – but the Prime Minister may have to rely on the backing of up to 35 Labour MPs.
Her letter comes after a frenzied week of talks as the Government machine has tried to push the deal through. Besides the letter, Mrs May has published her list of 40 reasons to back the Brexit deal.
On Friday political journalists were brought in for a hard sell of the deal from Mrs May’s chief of staff Gavin Barwell, with similar meetings throughout the week for MPs and business figures. In her letter, Mrs May made it clear that she believes her deal delivers on the EU
referendum result in 2016. She wrote: “It will honour the result of the referendum. We will take back control of our borders, by putting an end to the free movement of people once and for all. Instead of an immigration system based on where a person comes from, we will build one based on the skills and talents a person
‘A brighter future awaits the country’ ‘This denies a key benefit of leaving’
has to offer. “We will take back control of our money, by putting an end to vast annual payments to the EU. Instead, we will be able to spend British taxpayers’ money on our own priorities, like the extra £394million per week that we are investing in the NHS.
“And we will take back control of our laws, by ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK.” Addressing concerns over the Northern Ireland backstop, she added: “Crucially, [the deal] will protect the integrity of our
United Kingdom and ensure that there will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.”
But in the Sunday Express today, Jacob Rees-Mogg described the deal as “a failure”. He warned: “Not only will the UK’s ability to set its own laws be compromised but so will taxation. The treaty allows the EU to set the UK’s tariffs as part of the backstop provisions. This denies the UK a key benefit of leaving, the possibility to have lower prices for food, clothing and footwear. Yet the constitutional principle of consent for taxation from Parliament is more important than the loss of a future opportunity.”
Mr Johnson said the UK was on the verge of “making a historic mistake”.
STYLE: Theresa May wears bracelet by Mexican communist Frida Kahlo as she meets Jean-Claude Juncker yesterday