Saturday, 23 February, 2019

James Brokenshire says Commons will have chance to block no-deal Brexit

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD and the UK Prime Minister Theresa May Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD and the UK Prime Minister Theresa May
Ginger Lawrence | 11 February, 2019, 05:07

Lawmakers on all sides of the House of Commons are concerned that May's planning to run down the clock to Britain's scheduled exit day on March 29, risking a potentially disastrous divorce without an agreement in place.

The former UK Prime Minister was quick to dismiss claims that leaving with no deal would not be detrimental to Britain's economy.

The move is aimed at postponing a rebellion by ministers who are committed to removing the possibility of the United Kingdom crashing out of the European Union without a deal on March 29.

Theresa May is bargaining with MPs to give her more time to secure a Brexit deal with the European Union by offering them another Brexit vote by 27 February.

The promise is a bid to avert a showdown on Thursday, when Parliament is set to debate and vote on next moves in the Brexit process.

"What gives certainty is a deal, and that's why we want to see people getting behind us, getting behind this process that we now have", Brokenshire told the BBC.

The premier will try to mollify her critics and earn herself another two weeks' of breathing space, with the promise of further opportunities to have a say over what happens next if she can't get a deal by February 27.

"If the meaningful vote has not happened - in other words, if things have not concluded - (then) parliament would have that further opportunity by no later than the 27th of February", he said.

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If, as expected, May doesn't secure concessions from the European Union by Wednesday, Parliament will vote again on plan B options the following day.

Brokenshire's promise of another vote two weeks later is created to discourage lawmakers from binding the government's hands this week.

The opposition Labour party has denounced May's strategy as time wasting aimed at forcing parliament to vote through a deal at the last moment.

"Switzerland is one of the most valuable trading partners that we are seeking continuity for, accounting for more than 32 billion pounds worth of trade a year", Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox said in a statement.

If May succeeds in winning changes to her Brexit deal in the next few days she could bring it back for a debate and vote before February 14, and this more general debate would not go ahead.

The EU and the Irish Government have insisted that the backstop is the best way of guaranteeing there will be no hard border in Ireland.

The backstop aims to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland has been a constant sticking point in Brexit negotiations with Tory Brexiteers and the DUP rejecting the plan.

May's Northern Irish coalition party also argue that it will splinter their province from mainland Britain.