Brexit: MPs prepare to vote in bid to end impasse

IANS
Wednesday, 27 March 2019

British MPs are preparing to vote for their preferred Brexit option, with Prime Minister Theresa May due to meet Tory backbenchers in an effort to win them over to her deal.

London: British MPs are preparing to vote for their preferred Brexit option, with Prime Minister Theresa May due to meet Tory backbenchers in an effort to win them over to her deal.

There have been suggestions that May must name the date she will step down to have any hope of winning MPs' approval for her deal at the third attempt, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

Leading Brexit supporter lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg indicated he would now back May's deal as "half a loaf is better than no bread".

He said he did not "begin to pretend this is a good deal or a good choice", but he would support the Prime Minister's plan if it had the backing of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). 

The 10 DUP lawmakers are seen as the key to securing the deal, but they have urged Tory MPs to "stand firm" in their opposition unless there were "significant changes".

Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom said the government was still in talks to persuade the DUP to back it, along with other MPs on their own benches.

She said there was a "real possibility" that May's deal could come back for a vote on Thursday or Friday. 

"If we could simply get the withdrawal agreement bill under way... once we have done that, once we have left the European Union, we can then look at what our future relationship will look like," she added.

Having voted to seize control of Commons business, backbench MPs will vote on Brexit alternatives later. May continues to try to win MPs round to her deal, which has been heavily rejected twice. She is expected to address the backbench 1922 Committee ahead of Wednesday's debate.

The process on the Brexit deal is likely to continue into next week. However, it is unclear whether MPs will be free to vote as they wish or will take orders from party leaders.

Former Health Minister Steve Brine, who resigned on Monday to back the move to force indicative votes, said more than a dozen others might quit government roles, if they are denied a free vote.

On the other hand, Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade Barry Gardiner said he expected there to be a free vote for his party's MPs but they would be expected to rule out supporting a no-deal Brexit and revoking Article 50 in line with their manifesto.

Meanwhile, European Council's President, Donald Tusk, told Members of the European Parliament that they "cannot betray the six million people who signed the petition to revoke Article 50, the one million people who marched for a people's vote, or the increasing majority of people who want to remain in the EU".

The Scottish Parliament is also expected to formally back calls for Brexit to be cancelled in a vote later.

Friday (March 29) is the day that UK was slated to leave the EU, but later on Wednesday, MPs will vote on a statutory instrument to confirm a delay - with the earliest Brexit is likely to happen now being April 12.

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