Friday, 1 July 2022 – 14:12

May’s final struggle to unite MPs on Brexit deal before EU elections

As European Elections are just one day away Theresa May has launched one final bid to get MPs to back her Brexit deal, but this has seemingly failed.

Having already ditched talks with Labour as no common ground could be sought, the prime minister revealed a rather contradictory 10-point plan dubbed ‘Seeking common ground in Parliament’. 

In the new plans, she confirmed MPs would be able to have another vote on a second referendum and that the Commons would have more input in the next stages of EU negotiations, and, more controversially, a compromise customs union and new workers rights written in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) to appease Labour – something her Tory backbenchers are not best pleased with.

May’s deal has so far been rejected three times in the Commons and with her newly updated deal, Tory defiance is looking harsher than ever as her MPs view the deal as a very soft Brexit and thus not delivering on the 2016 referendum result.

The prime minister has set out the following concessions:

  • A guaranteed Commons vote on whether to hold a second referendum on May’s deal
  • A guaranteed Commons vote on a “customs compromise” 
  • A legal obligation for the UK to seek alternative arrangements to replace the Northern Irish backstop by the end of 2020
  • If the backstop does not come into force, the bill will guarantee Northern Ireland stays aligned with the UK and has customs territory
  • Legislation to develop new workers’ rights bill and the upkeep of environmental standards
  • A legal duty to get changes to the political declaration on future relationships with the EU

Now, looking to swipe government leadership from May, Boris Johnson MP tweeted in response to her announcement undermining her and saying the proposed bill is against the Conservative manifesto. 

He tweeted: ” We are being asked to vote for a customs union and second referendum. The bill is directly against our manifesto – and I will not vote for it.

“We can and must do better – And deliver what the people voted for.”

Twitter: @BorisJohnson

Also defying May was hardline Brexiteer Priti Patel who described the “whole cabinet” of “betraying” the will of the people.

She tweeted: “They have undermined our democratic freedoms, broken public trust in our politics and democratic institutions.”

Twitter: @patel4witham

However, still singing to May’s tune is environment secretary Michael Gove, who in doing so hopes to take the top spot when her time in no.10 is over and said MPs should “take a little bit of time and step back” to “reflect” on what has been put in front of them.

But some seem to think her time is soon to be up, with Tory MPs due to ask senior party bosses today for a rule change to enable a vote of no-confidence in her leadership and members already demanding she set a date for her exit. 

In a letter to the prime minister last week, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that now cross-party talks have come to an end, that Labour would not back her deal without “significant changes”.

He added: “we will continue to oppose the government’s deal as we do not believe it safeguards jobs, living standards and the manufacturing industry in Britain.”

Twitter: @jeremycorbyn

And what’s more, the deal she proposes to put to Parliament for a vote in early June has since been rejected by Labour, Tory backbenchers and her confidence and supply partners the DUP – possibly setting May up for her biggest Parliamentary defeat yet and subsequent inevitable departure. 

As it stands, Britain is due to leave the EU without a deal on October 31 or earlier if a deal can be ratified before then.

Meanwhile, the race for Tory leadership has begun but will officially be underway when May reveals when she will finally step down. Among contenders to replace her are Boris Johnson, leader of the House Andrea Leadsom, Sajid Javid, Amber Rudd and ex-Brexit secretary Dominic Raab. 

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