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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

Top May minister says Brexit deal unlikely to pass in House of Commons tomorrow

Westminster was already discussing various scenarios in the event of the May government losing the vote on Tuesday evening. According to PM May, the United Kingdom will move into “uncharted territory” if the vote is not passed in the House of Commons.

world Updated: Jan 14, 2019 16:49 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Anti-Brexit protesters hold signs outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain (File Photo)
Anti-Brexit protesters hold signs outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain (File Photo)(REUTERS)
         

A day before the crucial vote is held in the House of Commons on the EU withdrawal agreement, a senior cabinet minister in the Theresa May government admitted that it is unlikely to win the support of MPs, reflecting opposition to it from various quarters.

Liam Fox, a fervent Brexiteer and secretary for international trade, said, “I think that it is unlikely that we would win the vote tomorrow, to be frank. It’s not impossible, but it’s unlikely.”

“But I think it is possible that before we leave the EU, MPs will come to the conclusion that we have a duty to leave as instructed by voters of this country. We also have a duty to do it in a way that minimises any potential disruption to ourselves and our own economy and to our trading partners in Europe.”

Westminster was already discussing various scenarios in the event of the May government losing the vote on Tuesday evening. According to May, the United Kingdom will move into “uncharted territory” if the vote is not passed in the House of Commons.

Possible scenarios include a ‘no-deal Brexit’ on March 29, renegotiating the current agreement with Brussels, a mid-term election, another referendum and a vote of no-confidence moved by the opposition Labour.

May was due to make a last-ditch effort in a speech on Monday to persuade her party MPs opposed to the agreement, as well as MPs from other parties. She was also due to publish correspondence with Brussels on the key provision of ‘backstop’ in the agreement that has riled many MPs.

In extracts of her speech released in advance by Downing Street, May says that she now believes that ‘no Brexit’ is more likely than a ‘no-deal Brext’, after many MPs used parliamentary devices to give parliament greater role in the Brexit process.

May says: “I ask MPs to consider the consequences of their actions on the faith of the British people in our democracy”.

“Imagine if an anti-devolution House of Commons had said to the people of Scotland or Wales that despite voting in favour of a devolved legislature, Parliament knew better and would overrule them. Or else force them to vote again.

“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? People’s faith in the democratic process and their politicians would suffer catastrophic harm. We all have a duty to implement the result of the referendum.”

First Published: Jan 14, 2019 16:49 IST