MPs were scheduled to vote on the Prime Minister’s draft Brexit withdrawal agreement on Tuesday, December 11. But as it looked utterly impossible for Theresa May to garner the support needed to pass the draft in the House of Commons, the vote was deferred. There has been no confirmation on when the vote will now take place, but Mrs May said it will need to be before January 21.
Mrs May said MPs backed parts of her deal, but still had “widespread and deep concern” over the Brexit backstop which needed addressing.
She said she believed she could still get the deal through if she addressed MPs’ concerns, which she said she will try to do in the coming days.
Mrs May told MPs she would be speaking to EU leaders ahead of a summit later this week, about the “clear concerns” expressed by MPs.
And she would also be “looking closely at new ways of empowering the House of Commons to ensure that any provision for a backstop has democratic legitimacy”.
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Mrs May wants to enable MPs to place obligations on the government “to ensure that the backstop cannot be in place indefinitely.”
But she rejected any suggestion that an alternative to her deal would be possible, and again insisted her deal delivers on the results of the referendum.
She said her deal “gives us control of our borders, our money and our laws – it protects jobs, security and our Union”.
“It is the right deal for Britain. I am determined to do all I can to secure the reassurances this House requires, to get this deal over the line and deliver for the British people,” she added.
BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg tweeted: “Not clear from May’s statement whether she plans to bring back a tweaked proposal for another vote before Christmas, or for everyone to stuff themselves full of turkey, come back having had a big old think and vote in January – let’s see if anyone can get an answer out of her.”
Asked by Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable if EU leaders had indicated they were ready to ditch the backstop, she said: “A number of European leaders I’ve spoken to have indicated that they are open to discussions to find a way to provide reassurance to members of this House on that point.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the Mrs May had “lost control of events” and the government was in “complete chaos.”
Sir Vince said he would support Jeremy Corbyn if he decided to proceed to a no-confidence vote “as duty surely calls.”
SNP leader and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon earlier tweeted to Jeremy Corbyn: “If Labour, as official opposition, lodges motion of no confidence in this incompetent government tomorrow, @theSNP will support & we can then work together to give people the chance to stop Brexit in another vote. This shambles can’t go on – so how about it?”
READ MORE: A Brexit timeline – from the referendum to today and what’s up next
Leading Conservative Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said in a statement that Mrs May lacked the “gumption” to put her “undeliverable” deal before MPs.
“This is not governing, it risks putting Jeremy Corbyn into government by failing to deliver Brexit. We cannot continue like this. The prime minister must either govern, or quit.”
Mr Rees-Mogg is trying to get enough Tory MPs to submit letters of no confidence in the PM to trigger a leadership contest.
The pound fell sharply in response to the reports earlier of a likely delay to the Commons vote, shedding 0.5% versus the US dollar to stand at $ 1.26, an 18-month low. The pound was 0.8% down against the euro.