- Prime Minister Theresa May has pulled plans to hold a third meaningful vote on her Brexit deal on Tuesday.
- Downing Street had hoped to pass the deal this week to avoid a new Brexit cliff edge.
- But opponents of the deal, including the Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May’s government, refused to drop their opposition.
- Members of Parliament are set to on Monday evening to seize control of the government’s Brexit plans and hold a series of “indicative votes” on Wednesday.
- May said she would oppose plans for indicative votes in Parliament.
LONDON – Prime Minister Theresa May has pulled plans to hold a third vote on her Brexit deal as early as Tuesday after she failed to persuade opponents to back her deal.
“It is with great regret that I have had to conclude that as things stand, there is still not sufficient support in the House to bring back the deal for a third meaningful vote,” May told the House of Commons on Monday.
May said she would still like to attempt to bring back a third meaningful vote later this week.
“I continue to have discussions with colleagues across the House to build support so that we can bring the vote forward this week and guarantee Brexit,” she said.
Arlene Foster, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, told May in a phone call on Monday afternoon that the party, which props up May’s minority government, had not dropped its opposition to the deal.
‘Her deal is dead’
May also met with the Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who told the prime minister that he would not support bringing the deal back for a vote this week and that he opposed her suggestion to separate the withdrawal agreement from an accompanying political declaration.
Responding to May, Corbyn called on the prime minister to accept that her deal would not pass.
“Given that the prime minister admitted she does not have the numbers for her deal, will she accept today that her deal is dead and that the House should not have its time wasted giving the same answer for the third time?” Corbyn told the Commons on Monday.
Under the terms of a European Union accord published last week, May must secure agreement from the House of Commons on her deal by the end of this week to delay Brexit until May 22. Failure to do so would mean Brexit would be delayed only until April 12, unless Britain agrees to a longer extension in which it would take part in the European Parliament elections in late May.
Her plan has already been defeated in Parliament twice, and Downing Street needs to win the support of at least 75 MPs who rejected her deal last time.
A Brexit amendment brought forward by Conservative MP Oliver Letwin expected to pass on Monday night would seize control of the Brexit process from the government and pave the way for a series of “indicative votes” on Wednesday. Among the options likely to be voted on are a softer Brexit and the revocation of the Article 50 process.
The prime minister told MPs that she remained sceptical of the plan to hold indicative votes but insisted she would work with the Commons to find a way forward if her deal is again rejected.
“I continue to believe doing so would be an unwelcome precedent to set which would overturn the balance of our democratic institutions,” she said. “So the government will oppose this amendment this evening, but in order to fulfil our commitments to this House, would seek to provide government time in order for this process to proceed.
“It would be for this House to put forward options for consideration and to determine the procedure by which they wish to do so,” she continued. “But I must confess that I am sceptical about such a process of indicative votes. When we’ve tried this kind of thing in the past, it’s produced contradictory outcomes or no outcome at all.”
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