Friday, 18 January, 2019

Brexit 'paralysis' means we might stay in the European Union after all

Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt says “legally binding assurances” are needed from the EU to win the vote over the Brexit deal More Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt says “legally binding assurances” are needed from the EU to win the vote over the Brexit deal More
Deanna Wagner | 13 January, 2019, 09:07

Messages have been sent to Labour MPs, even those who are unwell, to ensure their presence both for the "meaningful vote" on the prime minister's Brexit blueprint on Tuesday and the following day.

A Labour spokesman, while not confirming a vote on Tuesday, said that while the timing of a no-confidence vote had not been fixed, MPs had been told to be ready.

A senior shadow cabinet member said: "There is now recognition that we can not wait any longer".

A senior and well-placed source predicted there would also be "furious lobbying of MPs", with 10-15,000 voters being encouraged by People's Vote campaigners to target MPs in 100 key seats, including key Tories, Labour waverers and potential opposition supporters of May's deal, like Caroline Flint and Gareth Snell.

But many MPs also object to the no deal Brexit, calling for either Article 50 to be extended or revoked, or a second referendum to allow the general public to decide the next move.

"When you turned out to vote in the referendum, you did so because you wanted your voice to be heard".

"If not, we risk a break with the British tradition of moderate, mainstream politics that goes back to the Restoration in 1660".

Britain and the European Union reached a hard-won Brexit deal in November, but the agreement has run aground in Parliament.

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Meanwhile, pro-Remain cabinet ministers are preparing to push for a softer Brexit this week.

"I do want to secure a deal with the EU".

The source also said there would be a "releasing of dossiers" critical of the rival plan backed by some Tory and Labour MPs for Norway-style membership of the single market "to kill it off once and for all". I'll tell you when I know the details.

One senior figure said that a "legally copper-bottomed" plan had already been drawn up to "give parliament control of the Brexit negotiation and stop a no-deal Brexit" should May's deal be voted down.

A cross-party group of People's Vote backers will meet on Wednesday morning at around 10am in Smith Square, around the corner from the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, to talk about common areas of agreement for the following 72 hours.

Asked whether she agreed with Mr Hunt that the United Kingdom could thrive after a no-deal Brexit, Ms Rudd told Today: "This is a strong and great country, we will find a way to succeed but I do not think that no-deal would be good for this country and I'm committed to making sure we find an alternative".

His remarks came after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker urged MPs on Friday to support the draft Brexit agreement, adding that a no-deal scenario could spell "disaster" for the UK. This week, lawmakers passed an amendment forcing the government to come back to Parliament with a new plan within three working days of the deal being rejected.