The Prime Minister said her “new Brexit deal” is different to the previous deals rejected by Parliament, as it includes a commitment in law to let Parliament decide on the customs issue. She said: “I recognise the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue. The Government will therefore include in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at introduction a requirement to vote on whether to hold a second referendum and this must take place before the withdrawal agreement can be ratified.”
Before Mrs May made this announcement, a WhatsApp group filled with Conservative MPs was being inundated with messages about dogs.
But the messages abruptly stopped just before 4pm, when the Tory leader made her speech.
Journalist Harry Cole tweeted a screenshot of the group and wondered whether the stunned silence could be a sign of “trouble afoot” for Number 10.
He said: “Not a single Tory MP has hit their endlessly chatty Whatsapp group since the PM’s speech.
“They were having a lovely chat about doggos this afternoon. Then silence from 4…”
Mrs May’s offer of holding a second vote on her deal and a compromise on customs arrangements is said to be an attempt to win over opposition Labour MPs.
But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party could not vote for the Withdrawal Bill.
He described Mrs May’s new offer as “largely a rehash of the Government’s position” in talks with the opposition that broke down last week.
Brexiteers have also described a customs union with the EU as “no Brexit at all”.
Former Brexit minister David Davis and Jacob Rees-Mogg said they would not vote for the bill next month.
Former foreign minister Boris Johnson and ex-Brexit minister Dominic Raab also said they would oppose the deal.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May’s government, said the “fatal flaws” of her original deal remained.