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May tells MPs not backing her Brexit deal would be 'catastrophic' as Corbyn says he's ready for election

The House of Commons is set to vote on the deal on Tuesday.

British Prime Minister Theresa May
British Prime Minister Theresa May
Image: Victoria Jones/PA Wire/PA Images

Updated Jan 13th 2019, 11:27 AM

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER Theresa May has warned MPs that failing to back her Brexit deal would be a “catastrophic and unforgivable breach of trust in our democracy”.

May’s comments are part of a last-ditch effort to get support for the draft Withdrawal Agreement her government has struck with the European Union.

The House of Commons is set to vote on the deal on Tuesday.

Writing in the Sunday Express, May said: “The verdict of the referendum was clear – the people of the UK want our future to be outside the European Union.

“But behind the record number of votes cast lie many different views about exactly what that future should look like.

“The same is true of Parliament. The vast majority of MPs want to respect the result of the referendum, which is why nearly all of us voted to trigger Article 50 two years ago. But there is far less of a consensus about the manner of our departure from the EU.”

May said the result of the 2016 referendum must be respected and said MPs should “forget the games and do what is right for our country”.

‘Catastrophic no-deal’

Speaking this morning, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party “will do everything we can to prevent a no-deal exit”.

Corbyn told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show the long-term effects of a no-deal scenario “would be huge” and “catastrophic for industry, catastrophic for trade”.

He said the Labour Party is ready for a general election, and will call a no-confidence motion if May’s deal is rejected. 

“We will table a motion of no confidence in the government at a time of our choosing, but it’s going to be soon, don’t worry about it,” Corbyn stated. 

Coup 

Meanwhile, according to the Sunday Times, senior MPs are plotting to “seize control of Brexit negotiations and sideline the prime minister”.

At least two groups of rebel MPs are reportedly making plans to change House of Commons rules so motions proposed by backbenchers take precedence over government business.

This may enable MPs to suspend Article 50 and potentially lead to the referendum result being overturned — “a move that would plunge the country into a constitutional crisis”.

In the same newspaper, former British prime minister John Major says revoking Article 50 would be “politically uncomfortable” but is the “only sensible course”.

Backstop 

In December, May postponed a vote on the draft Withdrawal Agreement so she could seek additional assurances on the backstop element of the deal. 

Many politicians have raised concerns about the backstop, which aims to avoid a hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland and could see the North stay aligned to some EU rules.

The Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May’s minority government, believes the backstop threatens the United Kingdom and could lead to a trade border in the Irish Sea.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his EU counterparts have repeatedly said the deal cannot be renegotiated. During the week, Varadkar said a proposal for Stormont to have a veto over conditions attached to the backstop would not be acceptable

Preparations are being made at British, Irish and European level for a no-deal Brexit, in case an agreement is not reached ahead of the official withdrawal date of 29 March. 

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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