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Wed, 3 June 2020

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Theresa May says critics of her Brexit deal are 'running risks' with democracy

Theresa May says critics of her Brexit deal are 'running risks' with democracy
4 min read

Theresa May has urged MPs who are planning to vote against her Brexit deal to "realise the risks they are running with our democracy".

Ahead of a crucial Commons vote on her agreement with the EU - currently pencilled in for January 15 - the Prime Minister issued a fresh plea for support from MPs who have raised a string of concerns about the deal.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, she warned that opposition to the deal could threaten "the jobs our constituents rely on to put food on the table for their families".

And the PM blasted those pushing for either a different form of Brexit or a second referendum on Britain's exit, saying "no one else has an alternative plan".

"There are some in Parliament who, despite voting in favour of holding the referendum, voting in favour of triggering Article 50 and standing on manifestos committed to delivering Brexit, now want to stop us leaving by holding another referendum," Mrs May said.

"Others across the House of Commons are so focused on their particular vision of Brexit that they risk making a perfect ideal the enemy of a good deal.

"Both groups are motivated by what they think is best for the country, but both must realise the risks they are running with our democracy and the livelihoods of our constituents."

She added: "Our genius for pragmatism is a defining British trait. At moments of profound challenge, we always find a way forward that commands the confidence and consent of the whole community. This is such a moment."


But the fresh plea from the PM came amid signs Number 10 faces a major battle in the House of Commons, with a cross-party team of MPs vowing to hobble the Government's ability to press ahead with a no-deal Brexit if parliament rejects Mrs May's deal.

Former Labour frontbencher Yvette Cooper is heading up a group of senior MPs aiming to amend the Finance Bill next week in a bid to stop the Treasury from using spending powers to fund any departure from the EU without an agreement.

She told the Sunday Times: "Our amendment would block some of the Treasury’s no-deal powers unless parliament has explicitly voted for no deal or unless the government has requested an extension of Article 50. We’ll be looking to table similar safeguards to all government legislation.”

According to the paper, the group also includes former Conservative ministers Oliver Letwin, Nicky Morgan, and Nick Boles, with Ms Cooper's plan also backed by fellow select committee chairs Rachel Reeves, Hillary Benn, Sarah Wollaston, Frank Field and Harriet Harman.

Meanwhile a second amendment from Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable - and backed by the Green Party and Plaid Cymru - would reportedly seek to bar the Treasury from raising income or corporation tax unless MPs have voted for a deal.


The cross-party push came as Mrs May continued to press Brussels for fresh guarantees that the UK will be able to leave the controversial Northern Ireland backstop part of her deal if it is triggered.

The backstop would see the entire UK enter a customs union with the EU in an effort to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland.

It would kick in only if trade talks with the EU fail to yield a solution to the border issue, but Tory Eurosceptics and the DUP - who Mrs May relies on for her Commons majority - fear Britain could be locked into the arrangement indefinitely.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, Downing Street is considering amending the deal to make it clear that approval of the agreement is "subject to" the Government getting assurances from the EU that the backstop will only be temporary.

But leading Conservative Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg today dismissed as "wishful thinking" claims that his backbench Tory colleagues were likely to be won round by Number 10's latest efforts.

"During the recess I read reports that I could be open to supporting the Withdrawal Agreement and that I was even ‘a work in progress’," he wrote in the Sunday Express.

"It was at this time that it was reported that MPs when outside the Westminster bubble could be persuaded to back the deal.

"This never seemed likely and in my own case was wishful thinking, the backstop on its own is an intolerable failure of the negotiations."