To be fair, in her direct appeal to MPs “to take a second look,” Theresa May made a better fist at making the case for her Deal in the Commons than she did earlier at the Doulton pottery in Stoke. For the first time she was saying that the Scottish nationalists and the “Ulster” nationalists of the DUP would carry the can for a catastrophic result.
As a proud Unionist, I share the concerns of Members who want to ensure that in leaving the European Union we do not undermine the strength of our own union in the UK…
…Rejecting the backstop altogether means no deal.
Whatever version of the Future Relationship you might want to see – from Norway to Canada to any number of variations – all of them require a Withdrawal Agreement and any Withdrawal Agreement will contain the backstop.
And that is not going to change however the House votes tomorrow. And to those who think we should reject this deal in favour of no deal, because we cannot get every assurance we want…
…I ask what would a no deal Brexit do to strengthen the hand of those campaigning for Scottish independence – or indeed those demanding a border poll in Northern Ireland? Surely this is the real threat to our Union.
A better effort perhaps but not enough for the DUP.
The Daily Telegraph estimated defeat by up to 200 votes on Tuesday night followed – quickly we’re told – by a Labour vote of confidence in the government which she would surely win. The DUP haven’t deserted her to that extent. This attempt will fail to dislodge the government and also to bring clarity about Jeremy Corbyn ‘s position of Brexit, according to Huffpost’s Paul Waugh
A second Brexit referendum is not Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘preferred’ or ‘default’ option if he can’t secure a general election, his aides have declared.
HuffPost UK understands that the party may instead attempt to exhaust a rolling series of ‘no confidence’ votes – needed to trigger a general election – before it ever moves on to campaign for a fresh referendum.
Corbyn’s stalling will be deplored by senior Labour centrists like Ed Milliband, Yvette Copper who expressed the passionate feelings of many MPs that if Mrs May had reached out across the party divide earlier, her deal might have had a better chance of success. They’re appealing to her to do so even now.
An amendment from Hilary Benn ruling out No Deal might have led the government not to put the May Deal to a vote, thus sparing the prime minister utter humiliation. On Monday night, Benn was under pressure to withdraw his amendment as it detracts from Corbyn’s no confidence strategy even though that has less of a chance than Benn’s amendment of passing the House. What may clinch its withdrawal is the rumour that if Benn moves it, the ERG might have voted for May’s deal to try to keep No Deal alive.
May and Corbyn between them are doing all they can to prevent a cross party coalition taking over control of Brexit – May by preferring to blame everybody else except herself for failure; while Corbyn an instinctive Leaver, is taking refuge in the melodrama of staging a vote of confidence that has little more chance of success that May’s efforts to win the meaningful vote.
Government supporters are pinning their hopes for minimising the scale of defeat on an amendment from NI Committee chair Andrew Murrison. This adds an expiry date of 31 December 2021 to the backstop and could be a way forward. The reasoning is that it would show Brussels what would be required to get a deal. However Tim Shipman of the Sunday Times reports that
“the PM has just said on floor of the house that EU won’t agree to unilateral exit or end date in backstop…. … which would appear to rule out official backing for Murrison amendment.
The motion can’t legally change the Withdrawal Agreement. If carried the amendment would, as the Gov’t argued in procedure committee, invalidate the motion and deny the Gov’t the right to ratify the deal.
However the Sun’s lead leaves the Murrison amendment very much alive while laying out what’s at stake – with Mrs May opting for – yes! – a second vote on the deal!.
Theresa May will attempt to implement a second vote on her Brexit deal if it’s voted down by MPs
She will tell her divided Cabinet when it meets for a fiery discussion on Plan B this morning that the German leader suggested the EU could grant extra concessions once the troubled agreement is shot down.
And that could include persuading Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to agree to an end date to the hated Irish backstop – which the DUP and dozens of Tory MPs have demanded as their price.
A senior Government figure said the PM and Mrs Merkel agreed there needs to be “a blood-letting moment” first.
Dubbing the pair’s phone call on Sunday morning as “very positive”, the source added: “Merkel believes there is more the EU can do once the vote is over as no deal would be a disaster for everyone, and they agreed to talk after it”.
Government whips were still predicting Mrs May’s deal will be defeated by a triple figure majority when the meaningful vote is held from 7pm.
The PM’s plan for a second vote on her deal will be bitterly opposed by Remain members of the Cabinet, such as Amber Rudd.
The progress of the day will partly depend on the order of amendments selected by the Speaker, followed by the prompt responses from May and Corbyn.
The Work and Pensions Secretary told allies she will instead call on the PM again to “reach across the House” for a different Brexit deal that carries Labour MPs’ support.
No10 fear it could still be the biggest ever inflicted on a serving government, passing the current record of 166 set by the minority Labour government of 1924.
With just 73 days to go until Brexit itself takes place, the defeat will plunge British politics into its worse crisis since World War Two.
Loyal Tories were urging No 10 to throw its weight behind a ‘kill amendment’ and torpedo their own deal in a bid to high the devastating true scale of MPs’ opposition to it, amid fears a defeat of 200 could force the PM to resign. One is an amendment tabled by loyalist senior Tory Andrew Murrison, which makes Parliament’s approval of the deal dependent on the EU agreeing the backstop must end after 12 months, by December 31 2021.
The Speaker’s choice of amendments and the order in which they’re taken will greatly affect the course of the day. Despite the high drama, don’t be surprised if it ends in the anticlimax of another fudge.
And don’t expect Mrs May to quit. Right now she’s all that holds the Conservative party together.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London