Brexit: British PM Theresa May faces another defeat after deadlock
The agreement was resoundingly voted down in January due to the so-called ‘backstop’ for Ireland-Northern Ireland.Updated: Mar 11, 2019 19:20 IST
A deadlock in talks in Brussels on a key provision in the EU withdrawal agreement is expected to lead to another defeat for Prime Minister Theresa May when the motion on her Plan B is introduced in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
The agreement was resoundingly voted down in January due to the so-called ‘backstop’ for Ireland-Northern Ireland, which is a fallback option to avoid a hard border between the two if formal trade talks do not result in a deal between the UK and EU.
MPs across the political spectrum believe the ‘backstop’ does not have an end-date and will thus tie the UK indefinitely to EU rules, defeating the result of the 2016 referendum. May promised to secure the required changes and re-introduce the agreement in parliament.
However, despite renewed talks, there has been no progress, fuelling speculation in Westminster that May would withdraw the motion – called the ‘meaningful vote’ – in the face of certain defeat on Tuesday.
On Monday, May was closeted in talks with close aides in Downing Street, while a spokesperson insisted she had no plans to make a last-minute dash to Brussels and dismissed claims that the vote would be withdrawn due to the likelihood of it being voted down again.
Conservative MP Mark Francois reflected the views of many MPs as he declared on Monday: “Nothing has changed since January. It is exactly the same agreement. If you ask the same question, you are likely to get the same answer”.
Environment secretary Michael Gove, a leading Brexiteer, appealed to rebel MPs to support May’s deal in an article in the Daily Mail: “Forty-eight per cent of the country voted to remain. Their voices need to be listened to, their hopes incorporated in our plan for the future”.
“That doesn’t mean giving in to the much smaller number who want to overturn the decision and frustrate Brexit. But it must mean that none of us Leavers should try to make our perfect Brexit the enemy of the common good”.
“Which is why I hope that everyone who believes in our democracy — in the importance of delivering Brexit and in the critical need to unite our country — will get behind the prime minister’s deal this week”, he added.