May faces losing control over Brexit despite gamble on Backstop

Pearl Mccarthy
January 31, 2019

It would tie Northern Ireland with the European Union and keep the rest of Britain in a customs arrangement to provide for the free movement of goods.

Britain's bickering parliament has splintered into rival factions with their own remedies for Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal.

The small Northern Irish Party which props up May's minority government but opposes her deal, said the contents of May's speech to lawmakers on Tuesday will determine whether it will support the amendment.

Another danger for the prime minister is that pro-Remain Conservative MPs may back an amendment by Labour's Yvette Cooper which would potentially delay Brexit.

The EU, however, is reluctant to offer such concessions and has doubts as to whether Mrs May could get her deal through Parliament even with changes to the backstop.

But asked about the Malthouse plan, Dr Fox said only: "There are all sorts of ideas being put out, but Parliament can not take a decision unless it is on the order paper and it is not on the order paper".

Theresa May is under pressure to come up with an alternative Brexit deal that will win support from MPs across the political spectrum, following her humiliating defeat in the House of Commons on Tuesday 15 January.

The backstop is the insurance policy in Mrs May's plan to prevent checks on goods and people returning to the Northern Ireland border, which some MPs fear could leave the United Kingdom tied to the EU's rules indefinitely.

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Opening the debate, Mrs May said: "This House has left no-one in any doubt about what it does not want".

"We have seen the German economy weakening, we have seen the French economy weakening", he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

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In a separate development, there was a glimmer of hope for remainers as a majority of MPs voted for a amendment calling for May to refuse a no-deal exit.

Engineered by both Leavers and Remainers, the proposal includes extending the transition period for a year and protecting European Union citizens' rights, instead of using the backstop.

The prime minister has been forced to back Sir Graham's proposal because it appears to be her only hope of winning MPs' backing for the withdrawal agreement.

Amid an ongoing revolt among backbenchers and her DUP allies, the Prime Minister has swung behind a motion amendment that would allow her to go back to Brussels and seek changes to the Irish border backstop.

And she added: "We need to demonstrate where opinion lies".

May vowed after the votes that the government would "redouble its efforts to get a deal that the House can support".

"When will the PM understand that the ideological leaders of the ERG do not want a deal?"

Leave supporting MPs have accused the speaker, who publicly declared that he voted for Remain, of using his position, which is traditionally impartial, to try to scupper Brexit, and will be keeping a close eye on his actions on Tuesday.

Additionally, another amendment put forward, this one by Rachel Reeves, a British economist and Labour Party politician, which was looking to prevent a no-deal Brexit, has also been voted against, by 322 to 290, a majority of 32.

Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn said the Parliament's first duty was "to block a disastrous no deal", and he believed that, whatever the outcome over the coming weeks, it was inevitable the government would have to delay Brexit, as there was not enough time to pass the necessary legislation.

However, the amendment - originally proposed by Tory loyalist Sir Graham Brady (below) - was dismissed as "too vague" by Conservative MPs in the hardline Brexit European Research Group, which is chaired by Jacob Rees-Mogg.

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