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Theresa May calls for 'national debate' on her Brexit deal and warns MPs it cannot be re-negotiated

3 min read

Theresa May has called for a "national debate" on her Brexit deal as she launched a PR blitz to prevent a humiliating Commons defeat next month.

The Prime Minister also warned MPs that there was no chance of the agreement being renegotiated if they decide to reject it.

Mrs May was speaking after a special EU Council took less than 40 minutes to formally ratify the deal struck between British and European negotiators following two years of talks.

Dozens of Tory MPs, as well as the Labour party, the Lib Dems, the SNP and DUP - who the PM relies on to prop up her government - have said they will vote against the agreement.

But at a press conference following the summit, Mrs May said voters just want Parliament to get on with implementing the result of the 2016 referendum.

"When they look at this deal they will see it as a good one for our country and that it is in the national interest for everyone to get behind it," she said.

"It honours the referendum, protects what we value and sets us on course for a bright future."

The Prime Minister added: "Today marks the culmination of our exit negotiations with the EU. But it also marks the start of a crucial national debate in our country over the next few weeks. 

"Before Christmas, MPs will vote on this deal. It will be one of the most significant votes that Parliament has held for many years. On it will depend whether we move forward together into a brighter future or open the door to yet more division or uncertainty. 

"The British people don't want to spend any more arguing about Brexit. They want a good deal done that fulfils the vote and allows us to come together again as a country. 

"So I will take this deal back to the House of Commons, confident we have achieved the best deal available and full of optimism about the future of our country. In parliament and beyond it, I will make the case for this deal with all my heart and I look forward to that campaign."


Elsewhere in the press conference, Mrs May again repeatedly refused to rule out resigning if the Commons votes down her deal, and would not dismiss the prospect of the Government collapsing if she is defeated.

However, she again made clear her opposition to a second referendum as a way of breaking any Parliamentary deadlock.

She said: "I'm clear that I believe there should not be that second referendum. We gave that choice to the British people, they voted to leave the European Union, I think we should now deliver on that.

"If you ask members of the public what they expect MPs to vote on, they would expect Parliament to vote on the deal as it is presented."

Earlier, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker insisted the 585-page withdrawal agreement will not be re-opened if MPs reject it.

He said: "Those who think, by rejecting the deal, they would have a better deal would be disappointed in the first seconds after the rejection of this deal."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn confirmed his party will vote against the deal.

He said: "This is a bad deal for the country. It is the result of a miserable failure of negotiation that leaves us with the worst of all worlds. It gives us less say over our future, and puts jobs and living standards at risk.

"That is why Labour will oppose this deal in parliament. We will work with others to block a no deal outcome, and ensure that Labour’s alternative plan for a sensible deal to bring the country together is on the table. 

"That includes a permanent customs union with a UK say, a strong single market deal and guarantees on workers' rights, consumer and environmental protections."

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