PM makes desperate last-ditch plea to MPs ahead of Commons showdown

PM makes desperate last-ditch plea to MPs ahead of Commons showdown

PM’s last throw of the dice: May warns it’s her deal or NO Brexit in desperate plea to MPs before tomorrow’s Commons showdown – as EU scrambles to shore her up with vow Irish backstop will be ‘temporary’Theresa May has made a last-ditch appeal to MPs ahead of Commons Brexit vote The PM warned that no…


PM’s last throw of the dice: May warns it’s her deal or NO Brexit in desperate plea to MPs before tomorrow’s Commons showdown – as EU scrambles to shore her up with vow Irish backstop will be ‘temporary’

  • Theresa May has made a last-ditch appeal to MPs ahead of Commons Brexit vote 
  • The PM warned that no Brexit is more likely than no deal if her plan is defeated 
  • EU has offered new assurances that the Irish border backstop will be temporary 

Theresa May (pictured on a visit in Stoke-on-Trent today) is urging Tory Eurosceptics to look at the mounting revolt by Remainers, and realise that Parliament is ready to block the country from crashing out

Theresa May (pictured on a visit in Stoke-on-) is urging Tory Eurosceptics to look at the mounting revolt by Remainers, and realise that Parliament is ready to block the country from crashing out

Theresa May launched a desperate last-ditch bid save her Brexit deal today – warning that voting it down will probably mean staying in the EU.

The Prime Minister pleaded with Tory Eurosceptics to look at the mounting revolt by Remainers, and realise that Parliament is ready to block the country from crashing out.

In a speech just 36 hours before the titanic Commons showdown, Mrs May said it was clear some politicians would use ‘every device’ to stop Brexit happening.

Underlining the dangers of the crisis wracking Westminster, she urged MPs to consider the ‘consequences’ of their actions for people’s faith in democracy.

Mrs May also pointed to a letter from EU commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and council president Donald Tusk published today, which insists the Irish border backstop – the most controversial part of the Brexit deal – will only be ‘temporary’. 

‘We have secured valuable new clarifications and assurances,’ Mrs May said, while admitting that the commitment ‘did not go as far’ as some MPs wanted.  

The desperate entreaty came as tensions escalate in Westminster ahead of the vote on the Brexit package she has thrashed out with Brussels.

Mrs May looks to be on track for a catastrophic defeat – with frantic manoeuvring under way over what happens next. 

A dozen Tory former ministers including Boris Johnson have urged wavering colleagues to stand firm against the deal, saying leaving on World Trade Organisation terms would not be a disaster. 

But Remainers from across parties are plotting an extraordinary bid to seize control from the government if it tries to push ahead with a no-deal Brexit. Conservative MP Nick Boles today confirmed plans to tear up Commons rules so MPs could propose legislation – something the government currently has power over.   

Ministers fear Speaker John Bercow would help the rebellion. Last week he flouted procedural convention to select an amendment from Tory former minister Dominic Grieve which attempts to speed up the process for the Government to reveal what it will do next if the PM’s Brexit deal is rejected. 

Speaking in Stoke-on-Trent, Mrs May said she now believes if her deal is defeated, MPs blocking Brexit is more likely than leaving without a deal.

She said failure to pass her package could mean crashing out – but there was a ‘bigger risk’ of not leaving the EU at all. 

The premier told factory workers: ‘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.’

Mrs May said she had always believed there was a majority in the House of Commons for a ‘smooth and orderly’ departure from the EU. 

A dozen Tory former ministers including Boris Johnson (pictured giving an interview in London today) have urged wavering colleagues to stand firm against the deal

A dozen Tory former ministers including Boris Johnson (pictured giving an interview in London today) have urged wavering colleagues to stand firm against the deal

No10 also believes Sir Oliver Letwin (pictured) is behind the plot to overhaul Commons rules

The amendment tabled by Mr Grieve (pictured) flew in the face of usual Commons procedure, and led to the PM's second major setback in 24 hours

No10 believes Sir Oliver Letwin (pictured left) and Dominic Grieve are the main figures behind the plot to overhaul Commons rules

The letter from EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and council president Donald Tusk insists the Irish border backstop will only be 'temporary'

The letter from EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and council president Donald Tusk insists the Irish border backstop will only be ‘temporary’

Asked during an LBC radio interview today what would happen tomorrow, Mr Johnson said: ‘I think the deal goes down. 

‘I think, possibly, some colleagues are being scared by this idea that there might be no Brexit as a result of voting it down. 

‘I think that’s nonsense. ‘Britain will leave in March, absolutely, and that’s the bottom line.’ 

How could the ‘coup’ plot work? 

The rules of the House of Commons have been developed over centuries.

They are largely set down in Erskine May – known as the procedural ‘Bible’ – and Standing Orders. 

The government currently has power to control business in the chamber – which is especially crucial when there is no overall majority.

The executive proposes legislation and motions, which are then scrutinised by MPs. 

But ripping up the system to give backbenchers priority over Parliamentary time could fundamentally change the balance.

MPs would be able to prevent ministers bringing forward legislation, and stage votes on what should happen next – potentially even binding ones.

Speaker John Bercow will play a key role in pushing through any changes, which would effectively turn the constitutional settlement on its head. 

No10 sources admit that the tactic could effectively remove their ability to govern. 

A dozen leading Brexiteers – including eight former members of Theresa May’s Cabinet – have written to all Conservative MPs urging them to vote against the Prime Minister’s deal.

In a joint letter sent to every Tory MP, former ministers including Boris Johnson, David Davis and Dominic Raab call upon Mrs May to stage one final attempt to persuade the EU to drop the Irish backstop which threatens to halt Britain’s exit from the custom union indefinitely.

But if the EU fails to comply on agreeing such a deal, the Britain must ‘have the confidence’ to leave on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms on March 29.

The letter is also signed by other former Cabinet members including Iain Duncan Smith, Esther McVey and Priti Patel.

They write: ‘It is right to vote down this bad deal and that in doing so we will unlock a better future for our party, our country and its people.’

They add: ‘A managed WTO Brexit may give rise to some short-term inconvenience and disruption, but the much greater risks arise from being locked into a very bad deal.’

Boris Johnson repeats the message in his column in the Daily Telegraph today, where he writes: ‘This deal is still the worst of both worlds, by which we somehow leave the EU but end up being run by the EU. It is still a complete stinker.’

Warning his fellow MPs about trying to force a second referendum, he adds: ‘If they now engage in ludicrous parliamentary jiggery pokery, endlessly tabling amendments designed to frustrate Brexit, they will risk a very serious backlash indeed.

‘The answer is not to leave it to Parliament; the answer is for the executive to do its job, as some of us have been advising for months: to accept that the deal is dead, and to move on.’

On the BBC's Andrew Marr show yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn made clear the party is on high alert to try to force the PM out and a general election

On the BBC’s Andrew Marr show yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn made clear the party is on high alert to try to force the PM out and a general election

Is May’s deal already sunk? 100 Tories, the DUP and Labour have come out against – leaving her staring at defeat on December 11

Theresa May’s task of getting her Brexit deal past the House of Commons is looking near-impossible as opposition mounts.

The ‘meaningful vote’ promised to MPs will happen on December 11 and is the single biggest hurdle to the Brexit deal happening – as well as being the key to Mrs May’ fate as PM.

But despite opinion polls suggesting the public might be coming round to her deal, there is little sign of a shift among politicians.

Remainers have been stepping up calls for a second referendum in the wake of Sam Gyimah’s resignation as universities minister over the weekend – while Brexiteers including Boris Johnson have accused Mrs May of betrayal.   

Mrs May needs at least 318 votes in the Commons if all 650 MPs turns up – but can probably only be confident of around 230 votes.

The number is less than half because the four Speakers, 7 Sinn Fein MPs and four tellers will not take part.

The situation looks grim for Mrs May and her whips: now the deal has been published, over 100 of her own MPs and the 10 DUP MPs have publicly stated they will join the Opposition parties in voting No.

This means the PM could have as few as 225 votes in her corner – leaving 410 votes on the other side, a landslide majority 185.

This is how the House of Commons might break down:

Mrs May needs at least 318 votes in the Commons if all 650 MPs turns up – but can probably only be confident of around 230 votes.

Mrs May needs at least 318 votes in the Commons if all 650 MPs turns up – but can probably only be confident of around 230 votes.

The Government (plus various hangers-on)

Who are they:All members of the Government are the so-called ‘payroll’ vote and are obliged to follow the whips orders or resign. It includes the Cabinet, all junior ministers, the whips and unpaid parliamentary aides.

There are also a dozen Tory party ‘vice-chairs and 17 MPs appointed by the PM to be ‘trade envoys’.

How many of them are there?178.

What do they want?For the Prime Minister to survive, get her deal and reach exit day with the minimum of fuss.

Many junior ministers want promotion while many of the Cabinet want to be in a position to take the top job when Mrs May goes.

How will they vote?With the Prime Minister.

European Research Group Brexiteers demanding a No Confidence Vote

Who are they:The most hard line of the Brexiteers, they launched a coup against Mrs May after seeing the divorce. Led by Jacob Rees-Mogg and Steve Baker.

How many of them are there:26

What do they want:The removal of Mrs May and a ‘proper Brexit’. Probably no deal now, with hopes for a Canada-style deal later.

How will they vote:Against the Prime Minister.

Other Brexiteers in the ERG

Who are they:There is a large block of Brexiteer Tory MPs who hate the deal but have so far stopped short of moving to remove Mrs May – believing that can destroy the deal instead. They include ex Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith and ex minister Owen Paterson.

Ex ministers like Boris Johnson and David Davis are also in this group – they probably want to replace Mrs May but have not publicly moved against her.

How many of them are there?Around 50.

What do they want?The ERG has said Mrs May should abandon her plans for a unique trade deal and instead negotiate a ‘Canada plus plus plus’ deal.

This is based on a trade deal signed between the EU and Canada in August 2014 that eliminated 98 per cent of tariffs and taxes charged on goods shipped across the Atlantic.

The EU has long said it would be happy to do a deal based on Canada – but warn it would only work for Great Britain and not Northern Ireland.

How will they vote:Against the Prime Minister.

Remain including the People’s Vote supporters

Who are they:Tory MPs who believe the deal is just not good enough for Britain. They include the group of unrepentant Remainers who want a new referendum like Anna Soubry and ex-ministers who quit over the deal including Jo Johnson and Phillip Lee.

How many of them are there:Maybe around 10.

What do they want?To stop Brexit. Some want a new referendum, some think Parliament should step up and say no.

A new referendum would take about six months from start to finish and they group wants Remain as an option on the ballot paper, probably with Mrs May’s deal as the alternative.

How will they vote?Against the Prime Minister.

Moderates in the Brexit Delivery Group (BDG) and other Loyalists

Who are they?A newer group, the BDG counts members from across the Brexit divide inside the Tory Party. It includes former minister Nick Boles and MPs including Remainer Simon Hart and Brexiteer Andrew Percy.

There are also lots of unaligned Tory MPs who are desperate to talk about anything else.

How many of them are there? Based on public declarations, about 48 MPs have either said nothing or backed the deal.

What do they want?The BDG prioritises delivering on Brexit and getting to exit day on March 29, 2019, without destroying the Tory Party or the Government. If the PM gets a deal the group will probably vote for it.

It is less interested in the exact form of the deal but many in it have said Mrs May’s Chequers plan will not work.

Mr Boles has set out a proposal for Britain to stay in the European Economic Area (EEA) until a free trade deal be negotiated – effectively to leave the EU but stay in close orbit as a member of the single market.

How will they vote?With the Prime Minister.

The DUP

Who are they?The Northern Ireland Party signed up to a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement with the Conservative Party to prop up the Government.

They are Unionist and say Brexit is good but must not carve Northern Ireland out of the Union.

How many of them are there?10.

What do they want?A Brexit deal that protects Northern Ireland inside the UK.

How will they vote?Against the Prime Minister on the grounds they believe the deal breaches the red line of a border in the Irish Sea.

Labour Loyalists

Who are they?Labour MPs who are loyal to Jeremy Corbyn and willing to follow his whipping orders.

How many of them are there?Up to 250 MPs depending on exactly what Mr Corbyn orders them to do.

What do they want?Labour policy is to demand a general election and if the Government refuses, ‘all options are on the table’, including a second referendum.

Labour insists it wants a ‘jobs first Brexit’ that includes a permanent customs union with the EU. It says it is ready to restart negotiations with the EU with a short extension to the Article 50 process.

The party says Mrs May’s deal fails its six tests for being acceptable.

How will they vote?Against the Prime Minister’s current deal.

Labour Rebels

Who are they?A mix of MPs totally opposed to Mr Corbyn’s leadership, some Labour Leave supporters who want a deal and some MPs who think any deal will do at this point.

How many of them are there?Maybe 10 to 20 MPs but this group is diminishing fast – at least for the first vote on the deal.

What do they want?An orderly Brexit and to spite Mr Corbyn.

How will they vote?With the Prime Minister.

Other Opposition parties

Who are they?The SNP, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Green Caroline Lucas and assorted independents.

How many of them are there?About 60 MPs.

How will they vote?Mostly against the Prime Minister – though two of the independents are suspended Tories and two are Brexiteer former Labour MPs. 

 

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Theresa May makes last-ditch plea to MPs ahead of Commons showdown

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