Theresa May to risk losing another big Brexit vote in an attempt to save her plan

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  • Theresa May will reportedly make a bold move and hold a vote on key Brexit legislation next week.
  • The Withdrawal Agreement Bill must be passed for Brexit to be enshrined in UK law.
  • It is separate from the Withdrawal Agreement but important for the passage of Brexit.
  • However, it’s a risky move, with a majority of MPs still opposed to May’s Brexit strategy and many Conservative MPs determined to oust her as leader and prime minister.
  • May is keen to at least look like she is making progress with Brexit.

LONDON – Theresa May is reportedly planning to hold a vote on key piece of Brexit legislation next week in a risky attempt to breathe new life into her plan for the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.

The prime minister is set to let Members of Parliament vote on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB), legislation which is separate to the withdrawal deal itself and must be passed for Brexit to be enshrined into UK law.

Sky News reports that May wants to hold the vote next week so that her government can press ahead with Brexit after weeks of impasse in which backbench MPs rather than ministers have often set the House of Commons agenda.

It is also designed to prove that the Conservative government is determined to deliver Brexit amid growing anger among Conservative members and Leave voters with May’s decision to delay it until October 31.

The prime minister’s alleged plan to hold a vote on WAB next week is a risky one.

While May survived a fresh attempt by hostile Conservative MPs to oust her on Wednesday evening, the parliamentary majority against her deal with the EU does not appear to have decreased significantly, if at all.

It is likely that a vast majority of MPs who voted against her deal at the last meaningful vote will vote against WAB unless the prime minister announces some major changes to her negotiating strategy, which is very unlikely.

Sky News suggests that May will load WAB with “trinkets” to appease key factions in the House of Commons.

This could include a pledge to protect workers rights after Brexit, which could win around some Labour MPs, and a fresh promise to pursue alternative arrangements to the Irish backstop, which so many pro-Brexit MPs oppose.

She may decide to exclude reference to the backstop for Northern Ireland altogether, ITV’s Robert Peston suggests.

But similar pledges have not worked in recent months, and there’s little evidence to suggest that they will next week.

Theresa MaySean Gallup/Getty Images

May’s attempt to take back control of the Brexit process comes as hostile Conservative MPs and party members try to get rid of her and install a leader who would be willing to tear up the current deal and pursue a no-deal exit.

Her opponents tried to change party rules so that there could be a no confidence vote in the leader can take place six months after the last one. The time-limit is currently 12 months, meaning May cannot be challenged until December.

The attempted coup failed, with a slim majority of MPs on the Conservative party’s 1922 Committee blocking the move on Wednesday evening.

However, they could turn against her in a future vote if she fails to make progress on Brexit in the coming weeks.

The unofficial race to succeed May got underway many weeks ago.

The Times reports on Thursday that Boris Johnson, who is the most popular choice among Conservative members, has brought in elections strategist Lynton Crosby to oversee his leadership campaign.

Allies of Johnson told Business Insider that he will not push for May to quit as leader and prime minister until after a Withdrawal Agreement passes, so that he can avoid inheriting the difficult task of delivering Brexit.

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