Labour: May should spell out contingency in case Brexit deal fails

Roman Schwartz
November 16, 2018

Earlier, May had endured a grueling appearance in the House of Commons as she sought to defend the deal agreed by her Cabinet just a day earlier.

British leader Theresa May suffered a huge blow on Thursday when a series of ministers including her Brexit secretary quit as she tried to sell her proposed European Union withdrawal agreement to a divided parliament.

Pacifying some in her own party will be a challenge and on Thursday Shailesh Vara quit as Northern Ireland Minister, saying he could not support May's agreement, which he said "leaves the United Kingdom in a halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally be a sovereign nation".

Her job had been to reach a deal with the European Union and bring it back to the House of Commons for a vote.

Under Conservative rules, a confidence vote in the leader is triggered if 15 per cent of Conservative lawmakers - now 48 - write a letter to the party's 1922 Committee of backbenchers, which oversees leadership votes.

At least 48 such letters from Conservative MPs are required to trigger a vote of no-confidence in the party leader, but a majority of the party's 315 legislators would have to vote against May in order for her to be ousted.

Mr Raab, who had been in place since July, resigned less than an hour after Shailesh Vara quit as a junior Northern Ireland minister over the draft accord.

The more immediate question for the PM now is whether she's about to be run out by one of her own team.

"If we get behind a deal, we can bring our country back together and seize the opportunities that lie ahead".

"Hopefully we'll actually get to see the text so that we can make our own judgement on that".

"Now, when we're making progress and close to a deal he's complaining about that".

Whether Mrs May would face such a vote was unclear as the Argus went to press.

The ex-Tory leader, who told voters in 2015 that a vote for his party would lead to "stability", called the Brexit referendum in a doomed attempt to heal the long-running Conservative divisions over Europe.

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Raab had understood to have endorsed the draft deal "with a heavy heart" at the meeting yesterday, but harboured deep concerns about the United Kingdom being locked into the Irish border "backstop".

"Above all, I can not reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promises we made to the country in our manifesto at the last election", Raab said.

The quirky largely Protestant Northern Ireland party May's minority government relies on to stay in office has said it will vote against the draft Brexit agreement when it formally comes before Parliament next month.

In the Commons on Thursday, May faced criticism from the opposition Labour Party - where left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn lambasted the "half-baked" deal.

"This is not the deal the country was promised".

But she acknowledged the agreement had involved "difficult and sometimes uncomfortable decisions".

MPs, when it came to the vote, "will recognise the importance of delivering on the (referendum) vote of the British people" she said.

At 0900 GMT, the pound stood at around $1.2870, compared to $1.2992 at 2200 GMT on Wednesday. The euro meanwhile jumped to 88.26 pence, a gain of 1.3 percent. By the end of this week, 27 ambassadors for the European Union member states will meet to share their assessment of the agreement, said the president.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe warned that despite the draft, the prospect of Britain crashing out without a deal was "still on the table".

"I believe with every fiber of my being that the course I have set out is the right one for our country and all our people", she said.

Speaking in Brussels, EU President Donald Tusk said EU member states would have until Tuesday next week to examine the deal and to agree the wording of a parallel political statement setting out goals for the bloc's future relations with London.

After that, preparations will begin for an European Union summit on the following Sunday to sign the deal.

"The choice is clear", May told the House of Commons.

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