Philip Hammond: Third vote on Brexit deal is final chance to prevent long delay
MPs will get a “final chance” to agree a Brexit deal next week or face a long delay to the UK's departure from the EU, Philip Hammond warned today.
The Chancellor argued it was now “physically impossible” to leave the EU on 29 March as originally planned, but said MPs had to choose between a short delay of a few weeks or a much longer wait.
However, he noted it was not certain that Theresa May would even put her deal to Parliament for the third time next week - arguing it would depend on whether the Government expects to win enough support for it.
The Prime Minister is expected to hold a fresh ‘meaningful vote’ on her agreement after it was defeated in the Commons a second time on Tuesday.
She is battling to secure support from eurosceptic Tory MPs as well as the DUP - which props up her minority Government and is thought to be the key to securing a deal.
Mr Hammond today warned those who might be wavering: “It’s the final chance to do this deal without having to have a long extension of the Article 50 period - I’m clear about that.”
His comments, on the BBC Andrew Marr show, suggest there will not be a fourth vote on the deal before the 29 March Article 50 deadline, as some had expected.
But Mr Hammond added: “We will only bring the deal back if we are confident that enough of our colleagues and the DUP are prepared to support it so that we can get it through Parliament.”
He insisted talks to get the DUP on side did not involve offering them more cash for Northern Ireland, although he did also note the Spending Review is fast approaching.
His comments about pulling the expected vote were echoed by International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, who appeared on the Sophy Ridge show on Sky News.
“It would be difficult to justify having a vote if you knew we were going to lose it,” he explained. “But the aim would be to get the support behind the Prime Minister.”
Mrs May was handed a boost today when pro-Brexit Tory MP Esther McVey - who quit the Cabinet in November in protest at the Brexit deal - said she would vote for it next week.