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Theresa May defers 'crucial vote' on Brexit deal

The Brexit plans are thrown into chaos again.

Image: PA Wire/PA Images

Updated Dec 10th 2018, 3:30 PM

UK PRIME MINISTER Theresa May has deferred the House of Commons’ crucial vote on the Brexit deal, which was due to be held tomorrow. 

May was facing the prospect of a heavy defeat on the deal struck between her government and the EU, which secures provisions such as the Irish backstop. 

Sources began telling reporters in London this morning that she would cancel the vote and return to Brussels on Thursday looking for more concessions, particularly around the backstop issue, for Brexiteers in her party. 

During her statement, May said she did not want to divide the House of Commons further with a vote. 

Plans around Brexit have once more been thrown into disarray, as the House of Commons must have a final say on a Brexit deal at some stage.

Reacting to the reports of a delay, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it demonstrated “pathetic cowardice by a PM and government that have run out of road”.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the government has decided that May’s deal “is so disastrous that it has taken the desperate step of delaying its own vote at the eleventh hour”.

“We have known for at least two weeks that Theresa May’s worst of all world’s deal was going to be rejected by parliament because it is damaging for Britain,” he said.

Another parliamentary official explained that the main route to postponing the vote would be for the Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom to table a business motion removing the vote.

Leadsom is due to address parliament after May at 4.30pm.

Earlier

The European Court of Justice ruled that Britain has the unilateral right to withdraw its plan to leave the European Union if it so decides before Brexit day at the end of March. 

The EU has already offered Britain the “best and only possible” Brexit divorce deal and will not renegotiate it, the European Commission warned following the ruling.  

“Our position has not changed and as far as we’re concerned the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union on the 29th of March 2019,” spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told reporters.

“We have an agreement on the table that was endorsed by the EU council in Article 50 format on the 25th of November. As president Juncker said, this deal is  the best and only deal possible. We will not renegotiate,” she said.

NO FEE RCSI €75M DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGIES INNOVATION FUND JB1 Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, with Minister Heather Humphreys and RCSI Chief Executive Officer, Professor Cathal Kelly.

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the current deal agreed between the EU and UK is “the only deal on the table”. 

He added that he had spoken to May on the telephone last night, but he had no confirmation on whether May was postponing the vote.

Varadkar said he did not want to divulge all aspects discussed, but said she updated him on the progress she was making in getting the deal ratified. 

The Taoiseach told reporters that it was not possible to “reopen any aspect of the agreement”, adding that “a lot of concessions have been made along the way, including the [backstop] review clause. 

With reporting by Christina Finn and Sinéad O’Carroll

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Sean Murray

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