- MPs begin the parliamentary mission to block a no-deal Brexit.
- Over 200 MPs have signed a letter to Theresa May urging her to rule out a no-deal scenario while others plot amendments which would effectively shut down the government if it tried to leave the EU without a deal.
- The prime minister insists that no-deal will happen if MPs do not vote for her deal this month.
- However, her attempts to win round critical MPs has so far not worked, meaning her deal will almost certainly be voted down.
- The EU is set to make new assurances on the controversial backstop.
LONDON – 209 MPs, including nine ex-Cabinet ministers, have signed a letter to Theresa May warning her that they will never accept a no-deal Brexit, as the prime minister struggles to win support for her Brexit deal.
The letter – coordinated by Labour MP Jack Bromey and former Conservative minister Caroline Spelman – has cross-party backing, and urges the prime minister to “to agree a mechanism that would ensure a ‘no-deal’ Brexit’ could not take place” in a move “that Parliament would support.”
MPs are mobilising to stop the UK leaving the EU without an agreement amid an increasing number of warnings about the chaos it would unleash on multiple aspects of day-to-day life, including access to food and medicine.
The move is just one of a series of attempts by MPs to prevent a no-deal Brexit with another cross-party group threatening to effectively shut down the UK government if it pursues a no-deal Brexit.
A group of MPs including senior figures like Lib Dem leader Vince Cable, former Conservative minister Nicky Morgan and Labour’s Yvette Cooper have tabled amendments to the Finance Bill, which would ban the Treasury from carrying out its no-deal preparation and basic tasks like changing tax levels.
If passed, the amendments would paralyse the government, and plunge it into a state of shutdown comparable to what is currently happening to Donald Trump’s administration.
However, May’s hope that critical MPs would come round to supporting her deal over Christmas has not materialised, with Conservative MPs who were against her deal before the New Year still set to vote it down.
Mark Francois, vice-chair of the European Research Group of pro-Brexit Tory MPs, told the Guardian: “No Conservative backbencher that I am aware of who was declared as against the deal has publicly recanted.”
The Democratic Unionist Party that props up May’s government also still intends to vote against the deal in a couple of weeks time. The vote is set to take place on Tuesday, January 15.
May is set to unveil a fresh set of assurances over the controversial backstop this week, according to multiple reports, including a pledge from the EU to make December 2021 the deadline for negotiating a new future trade deal.
Conservative MPs loathe the backstop for Northern Ireland it will leave the UK wedded to the EU’s customs union for an unspecified length of time with no unilateral exit mechanism. Northern Ireland will also remain in parts of the single market, creating new border checks with the Great Britain which the DUP regards as unacceptable.
However, May’s new assurances are not expected to provide the legal guarantees on the backstop that opposing MPs have demanded, meaning her deal is almost certain to be defeated when it is put to the House of Commons.
The prime minister, who is in Manchester today unveiling her long-term plans for the NHS, warned on Sunday that the country would be “in uncharted territory” if MPs vote down her deal later this month.
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