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Brexiteers warn Theresa May of ‘inevitable’ Commons defeat without backstop changes

2 min read

Theresa May has been told that she faces an “inevitable” defeat in getting her Brexit agreement through the Commons without concessions from the EU on the Northern Ireland backstop.

In a joint warning, arch-Brexiteer Conservative Steve Baker and the DUP’s Nigel Dodds said the agreement would be “defeated firmly” when it returns to the Commons on Tuesday.

The latest meaningful vote follows ministers failed attempts to win sufficient changes to the mechanism – which would keep an open Irish border through a customs union until an alternative was found.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay accused EU Brexit chief Michel Barnier of trying to "re-run old arguments" after he tabled fresh proposals on Friday to break the impasse.

Under the Brussels plan, Britain would have the ability to unilaterally quit the backstop arrangement designed to avoid a hard border in Ireland, however Northern Ireland would remain within the EU's customs regime – which the Government has already rejected.

Writing for the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Baker and Mr Dodds described the situation as “grim” and said that they expected a "three-figure majority" against the deal – after it was voted down by 230 MPs back in January.

“An unchanged Withdrawal Agreement will be defeated firmly by a sizeable proportion of Conservatives and the DUP if it is again presented to the Commons,” they wrote.

“If with the DUP just half of previous Conservative opponents vote against the deal, a three-figure majority would be expected.”

The pair also warned any delay to Brexit would do "incalculable" damage to public trust in politics.

“For some, democracy would be effectively dead,” they said.

The paper also published a letter by 74 senior Tory activists, including more than 50 association chairmen, telling Mrs May that Conservative voters "do not fear a no deal exit" and "just want Brexit delivered."

“Endorsing a bad deal or delaying Brexit would be a devastating blow to activists’ morale and voters’ faith in mainstream politics,” they said.

And it reports on a ComRes poll, which found that 44% of the public now believe the UK should quit without a deal if there are no concessions.

The figures mark a six point rise in favour of crashing out from January, while 30% disagreed.

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