London: UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday made a last-ditch attempt urging MPs to support her Brexit plan ahead of Tuesday’s crucial vote on her beleaguered withdrawal deal with the European Union.
In a speech to workers at a factory in Stoke-on-Trent, a part of the UK that voted heavily in favour of leaving the EU, May said that Parliament was more likely to prevent Brexit than allowing it to leave without a deal.
Lawmakers in the House of Commons will give their verdict on May’s Brexit proposal — the result of two years of negotiations between London and Brussels — over a month after the initial vote was postponed by the PM when it became clear she lacked sufficient backing.
She warned if lawmakers voted down her deal, the likely outcome would be a “paralysis in the Parliament that risks there being no Brexit” and said that trust in politics would suffer “catastrophic harm” if the UK did not leave the EU, the BBC reported.
“The only deal on the table is the one MPs will vote on tomorrow night… You can take no deal off the table by voting for that deal. If no deal is as bad as you believe it is, it will be the height of recklessness to do anything else,” she said.
May had been seeking legally enforceable guarantees surrounding the Irish backstop — aimed at preventing the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland (a UK territory) and the Republic of Ireland (an EU member state). It has emerged as the crucial sticking point for many in her Conservative Party.
Critics say the backstop would keep the UK tied to EU rules indefinitely and curb its ability to strike trade deals. Conservative MPs have demanded changes to the backstop to make it clear that it could not last forever and Britain could terminate the arrangement on its own.
So, May had been seeking legal assurances that the backstop, if used, would be temporary.
European Council President Donald Tusk and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker published a letter to May on Monday reiterating assurances that the backstop would only be temporary and that it “does not wish to see the backstop enter into force”.
During her speech, May welcomed what she called “valuable new clarifications and assurances”, saying “they make absolutely clear that the backstop is not a threat nor a trap”.
The opposition Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn said it would vote against the deal and would start moves to trigger a general election if it was voted down.
May’s Conservative Party wields a minority in the House and that the like-minded regional Northern Irish party, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), is also likely to vote against the deal.
The DUP, which represents unionists in Northern Ireland, has voiced concerns that the Irish backstop could leave it in regulatory alignment with Dublin rather than with London.