March 20, 2019

Theresa May expected to make strongest case against another Brexit referendum

13 January 2019, 04:48 | Devin Moran

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Jeremy Corbyn wants MPs to get a Brexit deal vote before Christmas

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Jeremy Corbyn wants MPs to get a Brexit deal vote before Christmas

The prime minister's Brexit "divorce" deal is so unpopular she canceled last week's parliamentary vote and now is aiming to bring it up the week of January 14, in hopes that legislators will have had a change of heart over the holidays.

The opposition Labour Party meanwhile faced refusal over its request for a no-confidence motion in May and growing pressure to table a binding vote against the government.

Labour hopes that by using this tactic Tory critics of the Prime Minister - including the 117 who said they had no confidence in her in last week's internal Conservative vote - could be persuaded to support the motion.

"The Prime Minister has obdurately refused to ensure a vote took place on the date she agreed, she refuses to allow a vote to take place this week and is now, I assume, thinking the vote will be on January 14 - nearly a month away", Corbyn told the Commons.

But with the European Union offering little in the way of concessions to win over lawmakers, an increasing number of politicians are calling for a second referendum - something some of her ministers say could be avoided if the government tested Brexit scenarios in parliamentary votes.

Another diplomat said the United Kingdom government, which rushed out details of its own no-deal plans on Monday, was expected to reciprocate.

"The sensible thing is now to allow parliament to vote on each of the forms of Brexit canvassed, including the prime minister's deal", he said in a statement.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, on Monday said Britain was in "a constitutional crisis and the prime minister is the architect of it".

With the European Union unlikely to offer concessions that would win over lawmakers and May repeatedly ruling out a second referendum, the risk of a no-deal has increased, a scenario that would mean an abrupt exit with no transition that some businesses fear would be catastrophic for the world's fifth largest economy.

"We can not, as he would, abdicate responsibility for this decision".

In a warning to campaigners calling for a second referendum, she said it would "break faith with the British people" and do "irreparable damage to the integrity of our politics". "Another vote which would likely leave us no further forward than the last", she will say.

Ahead of the meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee (Plenary) on Wednesday afternoon, the Prime Minister said: "I am confident that what we have agreed delivers for the whole of the UK".

There have also been reports that government officials are considering giving the public a vote.

May survived a separate confidence vote tabled by members of her own Conservative Party last week but she came out of the process badly bruised and the Brexit vote could still go against her.

Labour reacted by suggesting the prime minister was "scared".

On Tuesday, May's government announced no-deal plans, including drastic measures such as stockpiling imported chemicals to ensure safe drinking water and special flights to ensure supplies of medicine.

May's deal is loathed both by pro-Brexit lawmakers, who think it keeps Britain bound too closely to the bloc, and pro-Europeans, who see it as inferior to staying in the EU.

Fears of a no-deal departure have been heightened by widespread parliamentary opposition to May's EU withdrawal plan, brokered after months of arduous negotiations with her European counterparts.

Labour has repeatedly said it will call such a motion at "the best time", or when it knows it can win, and for now will try to force the government to bring its deal to parliament sooner.

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