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Theresa May faces Brexit showdown in Commons on 11 December as anger grows over deal

Emilio Casalicchio

4 min read

Theresa May will face a Commons showdown on 11 December when MPs finally get to vote on her controversial Brexit deal.

The agreement signed off by EU leaders yesterday will come before the House for a so-called 'meaningful vote' in the first half of next month, but is all-but certain to be voted down.

Mrs May said parliamentarians would get the chance to "deliver on the vote of the British people" after five days of debate on her plans.

But MPs again lined up to savage her deal today in another tense Commons debate for the Prime Minister.

Tory backbenchers said it was "dead as a dodo" and a "huge gamble" for the country, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said it amounted to an “act of national self-harm”.

Critics - including around 90 MPs on the Tory benches and their confidence and supply partners in the DUP - are especially angry about the so-called ‘backstop’ proposal to keep the Northern Irish border open.

Mark Francois, who serves as deputy chair of the anti-EU European Research Group of Conservative MPs, savaged the plan during the hostile Commons debate.

“This will never get through. And even if it did - which it won’t - the DUP on who we rely on a majority has said they would then review the confidence and supply agreement,” he said.

“So it’s as dead as a dodo. Prime Minister I plead with you… the House of Commons has never ever surrendered to anybody and it won’t start now.”

Mr Francois highlighted Spain's demands over Gibraltar and France's insistence on access to UK fisheries to argue the UK would end up caving in to further EU pressure.

Former Cabinet minister Sir Michael Fallon, who is usually loyal to the Prime Minister, said the Brexit plan was a “huge gamble” since it involved “surrendering” a say over EU rules and would not guarantee frictionless trade.

Boris Johnson - who quit the Cabinet in protest at the Brexit plans put forward by the PM - congratulated Mrs May on her admission that her deal was “unsatisfactory,” adding: “I must say I think that’s a bit of an understatement.”

Meanwhile, former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said the UK would end up agreeing to “almost anything” to keep the Northern Irish border open in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

And in a further blow for the Prime Minister, Tory MP Andrew Lewer wrote in a blog that the deal amounted to a “non-Brexit” and revealed he had submitted a letter of no confidence in the Prime Minister.


Labour leader Mr Corbyn told the Commons: “It is not in the national interest for the Prime Minister to plough on when it is clear this deal does not have the support of either side of this House or the country as a whole.

“Ploughing on is not stoic - it is an act of national self-harm.”

But Mrs May said: There is a choice which MPs will have to make. We can back this deal, deliver on the vote of the referendum and move on to building a brighter future of opportunity and prosperity for all our people.

"Or this House can choose to reject this deal and go back to square one … It would open the door to more division and more uncertainty, with all the risks that will entail."

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said she was still confident that MPs would back her deal in parliament. Mrs May later confirmed that the vote would take place on 11 December.

She said she was "looking ahead" to the date "when this House will be faced with the decision as to whether or not it wishes to deliver on the vote of the British people with a deal, that not only delivers that vote but also protects their jobs".


The backstop plan could see the whole of the UK stay in a customs union with the bloc if no future trade deal is agreed by the end of the transition period in December 2020.

It would also see Northern Ireland - and not the rest of the UK - continue to respect some single market rules, which critics argue would create a new border down the Irish Sea and jeopardise the Union.

But the PM has insisted the backstop is unlikely to be required as the Brexit transition period could be extended instead, and has noted that any backstop would be time limited.

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