‘We will vote against it AGAIN’: MPs dismiss May’s plan to persuade Brexit-backing Labour rebels to back her deal in June before stepping down as she faces showdown with Tory MPs TOMORROW
- Tory MP Henry Smith told MailOnline Mrs May was stuck in a ‘fantasy’
- DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds said the party will still oppose the plan
- The Withdrawal Agreement Bill will be brought before Parliament next month
- It comes in the same week that President Trump is due to arrive for a state visit
- The PM is expected to tell Tory grandees that she will quit in July if deal passes
Theresa May’s last-gasp plan to ram a Brexit deal through Parliament next month and get the UK out of the EU before the summer looks doomed to failure today after MPs lined up to attack it.
Downing Street announced last night that the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) in the first week of June after three failed attempts to get a deal past MPs.
It came after she met with Jeremy Corbyn last night to discuss the stalled Brexit talks with Labour.
Senior Tory Brexiteers and Mrs May’s allies the Democratic Unionist Party all lined up to oppose it and Jeremy Corbyn is understood to have said Labour will not support it without a cross-party deal in place.
That would leave Mrs May needing a heavy rebellion from Jeremy Corbyn’s Leave- reconciled backbenchers in areas which voted for Brexit.
A source told the Daily Mirror 20-25 might be on the verge of backing a deal, but that may not be enough to get it through.
Tory MP Henry Smith told MailOnline Mrs May was stuck in a ‘fantasy’.
‘Unless there is substantial enough change to the EU Withdrawal Agreement then I think it’s fantasy MPs will support it,’ he said.
‘Theresa May could and should use her prerogative powers as Prime Minister to exit the UK fully now; the election promise we both stood on was no deal is better than a bad one.’
Theresa May (pictured yesterday) last night made a ‘final offer’ to Jeremy Corbyn on Brexit, as she bowed to Cabinet demands to accelerate efforts to take Britain out of the EU
Conservative Party Chief Whip Julian Smith outside Downing Street today, as uncertainty over Brexit continues
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in Downing Street today. Cabinet ministers were told yesterday about plans to bring in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in June
A Tory former minister slammed Mrs May as the ‘worst PM in living memory’.
‘They are living in a completely different world,’ they told MailOnline.
‘It has failed to get through three times and she has been repeatedly told it is still unacceptable. The worst PM in living memory.’
And DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds also made clear the party will still oppose the PM’s plan.
‘Unless she can demonstrate something new that addresses the problem of the backstop then it is highly likely her deal will go down to defeat once again,’ he said.
‘The Prime Minister has not pursued the one option that has ever achieved a positive vote for something in Parliament.
‘Alternative arrangements to the backstop won easily whilst everything else has failed.
For the bill to have any prospect of success then there must be real change to protect the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom and deliver Brexit.’
Mrs May is likely to face a rough ride from MPs when she faces the Commons for Prime Minister’s Questions at noon today.
Senior Brexiteer ‘Spartan’ Steve Baker also questioned the wisdom of trying to ram through legislation.
He said: ‘If the Brexit Party were demanding we pass this Withdrawal Agreement, a vote might just make sense.
‘But they aren’t. Quite the reverse. And driving it through over the heads of the DUP appears to eradicate the Government’s majority.
‘What is Government thinking?’
In a high risk move, Mrs May told the Cabinet that she would finally bring forward the WAB legislation – with or without a deal with Labour – in the hope of getting a version of her deal through Parliament at the fourth attempt.
That is the same week that President Trump is due to make a three-day state visit to the UK.
Jeremy Corbyn (pictured) is demanding a customs union deal and is under pressure from his own MPs to demand a second referendum too
It will also come just after the May 23 European elections in which the Tories are expected to take a huge battering from voters over delays to Brexit.
Allies of Mrs May last night denied that she was setting out a timetable for her departure from No 10 in the summer. But the vote is likely to determine her political future.
She is expected to tell Tory grandees tomorrow that she is prepared to step aside at the end of July if her deal has gone through. But senior Tories believe that she could not survive her deal being rejected by MPs for a fourth time.
She is up against an October 31 deadline, when Britain is currently scheduled to leave the EU after an extension was agreed last month.
For Britain to leave with a deal she will have to win a majority for her withdrawal agreement and pass the Bill which enacts it into domestic law.
Downing Street said the Cabinet agreed it was now ‘imperative’ that the legislation is passed before Parliament breaks up for the summer at the end of July – meaning it will be brought forward with or without a deal with Labour.
The fresh Commons votes will come shortly after European elections in which the Conservatives are predicted to poll badly.
Some polls have shown the Tories dropping to fourth or even fifth behind Labour, the Brexit Party, the Lib Dems and the Greens.
The PM may be hoping that a disastrous Conservative result will spook her MPs into supporting a deal to get Brexit over the line.
In addition, giving MPs a vote on the Bill – as opposed to the ‘meaningful votes’ which have taken place already – may help persuade Speaker John Bercow to allow another vote.
Citing a convention that dates back to 1604, Mr Bercow said in March that the PM could not keep bringing the same package back to the Commons unless it was substantially different.
The new deadline is a significant concession to Brexiteer cabinet ministers, led by Andrea Leadsom. Arriving at Cabinet yesterday, Mrs Leadsom said: ‘We’ve got to get on with Brexit … so whatever that takes, we have to deliver Brexit urgently’.
After weeks of deadlock, Mrs May surprised Westminster by requesting a face-to-face meeting with the Labour leader last night to decide whether there is any prospect of the two sides agreeing a soft Brexit compromise.
The PM told Mr Corbyn that the timetable set a two-week deadline on the cross-party talks that have limped on for six weeks. Earlier, Mrs May briefed the Cabinet on the concessions she was willing to offer in return for Mr Corbyn’s support in getting her Brexit deal through Parliament.
Chancellor Philip Hammond arriving in Downing Street this morning. He will be alongside Theresa May when she faces MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions at noon.
Labour is increasing the gap between them and the Tories, a new opinion poll revealed today
Sources said Mrs May indicated she was prepared to agree a temporary ‘customs arrangement’ that would see Britain remain in the customs union in all but name until the next election. She also warned ministers that she was willing to sign a deal that would see the UK’s labour laws and environmental standards in lock step with the EU after Brexit.
Pressure yesterday intensified on Mrs May to abandon talks with Labour’s hard-Left leader. Former defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon described the talks as ‘a blind alley taking us into a customs union’ which would be worse than staying in the EU.
In an ominous development, the Tories’ backbench shop steward Sir Graham Brady joined 13 former cabinet ministers in warning that a deal with Labour would ‘split our party’ and create such division that it would probably fail to gain a majority. It came as:
■Former Tory minister Crispin Blunt said the Conservatives would ‘almost certainly’ have to sign an electoral pact with Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party to survive the next election;
■Tory sources blamed the shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer for ‘undermining’ the cross-party talks by pushing for a second referendum in order to burnish his own leadership prospects;
■Jeremy Hunt warned that both main parties would be ‘crucified’ by voters if they failed to deliver on the 2016 referendum result;
■The Government’s chief Brexit negotiator Olly Robbins prepared to open talks with the EU today on whether some of Labour’s demands could be added to the deal agreed with Mrs May last year;
■Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell performed a U-turn on calls for a second referendum, saying that the option to remain in the EU should be on the ballot – six months after he said that would fail to ‘respect the last referendum’;
■An opinion poll gave Labour a nine-point lead over the Conservatives, potentially putting Mr Corbyn on track for No 10 at the head of a coalition government.
Jeremy Corbyn will be smiling today after a new opinion poll put Labour nine points ahead of the Tories if there was a general election
At a three-hour Cabinet meeting Mrs May said the public wanted politicians to reach a compromise. She said the Tories had to resist calls to follow Mr Farage in pursuing a No Deal Brexit, saying: ‘We can’t give in to absolutism.’
But Mr Hunt, who is among the favourites to succeed Mrs May, said the decision to take No Deal off the table in March had undermined negotiations, allowing the EU to not be ‘as flexible as they might otherwise have been’.
Senior Tories believe that Mr Corbyn and his closest allies are interested in striking a deal that would allow him to portray himself as a statesman. But one Tory source said: ‘It’s as clear as day that Starmer is trying to position himself as the hero of Remain in order to take over from Corbyn.’
A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘This evening the Prime Minister met the Leader of the Opposition to make clear our determination to bring the talks to a conclusion and deliver on the referendum result to leave the EU.
‘We will therefore be bringing forward the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in the week beginning the June 3.’
Tories slump to FIFTH place behind Lib Dems and Greens as EU election voters flock to Farage’s Brexit Party
The Brexit Party is enjoying a growing lead in a new EU election poll with the Tories now in fifth
The Tories face the ignominy of finishing fifth in the EU elections as Nigel Farage continues to give them a battering, a new poll revealed yesterday.
The Brexit Party is racing ahead with a predicted 34 per cent of the vote on May 23 – but Theresa May’s Conservatives are heading for just 10 per cent, a YouGov survey found.
This would put the Prime Minister’s party in fifth place behind the Greens and the Liberal Democrats, who were on 15 per cent and 11 per cent respectively.
The collapse in support for the Conservative Party is piling pressure on Mrs May to set a date for her departure from No 10 – but Labour is also down five points on 16 per cent, with confusion over their Brexit position continuing.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the Brexiteer European Research Group of Tories, appealed for disillusioned Conservatives to stick with the party for the sake of Theresa May’s replacement.
He said: ‘I would appeal to their loyalty, to their tradition and to say that the Conservative Party will get a new leader at some point. We have gone from 40 per cent to 10 per cent in the polls and those are Eurosceptics. It is forgetting about them that is destroying the Tory party’s vote’.
Calls for Mrs May to leave office have intensified since this month’s local elections when the Conservatives lost 1,300 seats.
Ministers now fear a bloodbath at the hands of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party next week when the country goes to the polls for European parliament elections that would not have taken place if the UK had left the EU on time.
A YouGov poll yesterday found that the Tories were on course to slump to fifth place behind the Greens in next week’s elections.
The survey for the Times put the Brexit Party on 34 points, well ahead of Labour on 16, the Liberal Democrats on 15 and the Greens on 11. The poll put Tory support on just 10 per cent.
Despite today’s positive general election poll furious Labour MPs rounded on Jeremy Corbyn over Brexit last night as he appeared in front of the party’s backbenchers.
During a mammoth meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party, MPs from both sides of the debate turned on their leader, questioning his lack of a clear stance on Brexit and his ability to become Prime Minister.
It came as party deputy leader Tom Watson added to Labour’s confusion over Brexit by declaring it was now the party of ‘remain and reform’.
At the party meeting, second-referendum campaigner Peter Kyle told Mr Corbyn: ‘Jeremy, I urge you to simplify our policy so people realise we are talking with absolute sincerity.’
Brexiteer John Mann said: ‘We are losing votes in the North and Midlands. If you cannot get this right, you cannot be Prime Minister.
‘There should be free votes for Labour in this Parliament. Labour voters are divided in a very big way.’
Wes Streeting told Mr Corbyn: ‘We need clear leadership in order to win the next general election.’
Yesterday a former Labour minister under Tony Blair quit the party in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s record on Brexit and tackling anti-Semitism saying: ‘I joined the Labour Party. Not a cult’.
Bridget Prentice, who was MP for Lewisham East from 1992 to 2010, claimed the party had ‘been destroyed’ under Mr Corbyn’s leadership.
In a strongly-worded attack she said that ‘in all the major issues of the day, you have called it wrong’.
Ms Prentice, who served as a whip and junior justice minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, said ‘enough is enough’ and she was resigning with ‘deepest sadness and some anger’ after 45 years of party membership.
Theresa May’s cabinet met again today and discussed how to move Brexit forward in a two hour discussion
Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary, and Liam Fox, International Trade Secretary, may favour the PM bringing back her deal
Theresa May (pictured last night) is being urged to turn her back on Labour for the good of the Tory party – while Andrea Leadsom, pictured today, said: ‘Brexit has to be delivered, whatever it takes’
Labour’s John McDonnell reveals talks with May have STALLED and says 13 ex-ministers saying a new Tory PM would tear up any cross-party deal ‘hasn’t helped’ as EU reveals it is already preparing to extend Brexit til 2020
Labour’s John McDonnell today revealed that Brexit talks with the Tories have stalled badly declaring: ‘We are nowhere near what we want’.
The shadow chancellor also said that a gang of Theresa May’s former cabinet ministers telling her any deal could be scrapped by her successor ‘has not helped’ chances of a breakthrough in cross-party talks.
A group of 13 former ministers and senior Tories including leadership favourite Boris Johnson have written to Mrs May today, saying she will lose the ‘loyal middle’ of her party if she strikes a deal with Labour, branding it a ‘blind alley’.
Mr McDonnell, whose party wants a permanent customs union and may also demand a second referendum as the price for any deal, said this afternoon that the PM’s crumbling powerbase ‘gives us no security’.
He said: ‘We are not near what we want. Boris Johnson is certainly going to be in contention for the leadership. Very likely to be the next leader, in a situation where he in his letter today says he is not going to accept a customs union, and, actually, he will overturn the deal that we negotiate’.
Today it emerged that EU officials are already talking about a further extension of Article 50 to June 2020 because they don’t expect any breakthrough in Westminster before the current October 31 deadline, according Charles Grant from the respected Centre for European Reform.
Talks with Labour resumed yesterday after seven weeks without any breakthrough, and today the Prime Minister came under intense pressure from ministers at a Cabinet meeting this morning Brexiteers urged her to pull the plug immediately.
Ministers agreed to continue Brexit talks with Labour but acknowledged it was ‘imperative’ to get withdrawal legislation through Parliament before the summer break, Downing Street said.
But one Cabinet source told MailOnline the two-hour discussion had ‘pretty much kicked the can further down the road’ – another insisted they had avoided any major confrontation over how to proceed.
Theresa May (pictured last night) is being urged to turn her back on Labour for the good of the Tory party – and shadow chancellor John McDonnell revealed that chances of a breakthrough look slim
Today’s incendiary letter to Mrs May, signed by Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, Esther McVey and chairman of the 1922 committee Sir Graham Brady, warned of the risk of a ‘democratic deficit’ if a backroom deal with the opposition is hatched.
It is also implicit that the rebel group, made up of leadership contenders, would try tear up any soft Brexit agreement with Labour once Mrs May resigns.
Cabinet had an ‘extensive’ two hour discussion on the Brexit talks this morning, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman has said.
Her de facto deputy David Lidington also gave an overview of the discussions with Labour, and a ‘very significant’ number of ministers spoke, he said.
The meeting stressed the ‘pressing need to get on with delivering the result of the referendum’ and cabinet agreed to continue the discussions with Labour to ‘see what was possible’, the spokesman revealed.
But ministers concluded that it was ‘imperative’ the Withdrawal Bill based on Theresa May’s deal should be brought forward and passed before the summer recess.
Former Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, who also signed the letter drawn up by ex-ministers, said today he would rather stay in the EU than sign up to the customs union after Brexit – and urged the Prime Minister to sack off talks with Mr Corbyn now.
The letter, signed by Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, Esther McVey and chairman of the 1922 committee Sir Graham Brady, warned of the risk of a ‘democratic deficit’ if a backroom deal with the opposition is hatched
He said: ‘The talks clearly aren’t getting anywhere. It’s a blind alley. It’s far better to concentrate on the arrangements in Northern Ireland, the one thing there is a majority for. If a [Labour] deal is going to include a permanent customs union then frankly we are better off staying in the EU because at least then we’d have a voice. We can’t say we are leaving then half-stay in it’.
Mrs May is set to let MPs decide on how to break the Brexit deadlock as her own furious ministers urged her to end talks with Labour immediately.
The Prime Minister will offer the Commons a series of ‘definitive votes’ to try to settle the matter after the European elections conclude on May 23 – a plan backed by remainers in her cabinet.
Brexiteer ministers including Andrea Leadsom are said to prefer bringing back her deal to the Commons and concentrating on getting the EU to change the Irish backstop clause of Britain’s divorce deal.
Some 13 former ministers, together with the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, have written to the Prime Minister urging her not to concede Labour’s key demand of a customs union and potentially a second referendum.
The signatories also include Gavin Williamson, who she sacked as defence secretary this month.
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