Opposition leaders join forces to accuse Theresa May of 'contempt for Parliament' over vote delay

Posted On: 
11th December 2018

Opposition leaders have accused Theresa May of "contempt for Parliament" for cancelling the vote on her Brexit deal at the last minute.

Theresa May pulled her meaningful vote at the 11th hour.
PA Images

In a joint-letter, Jeremy Corbyn, Ian Blackford, Vince Cable, Caroline Lucas and Liz Saville Roberts said the Prime Minister had "run away from a heavy defeat" because it was apparent that MPs were set to reject the withdrawal agreement.

Mrs May stunned Westminster yesterday by deciding to delay the vote after admitting she was set to suffer a humiliating reverse, and pledged to seek "reassurances" from the EU on how the controversial Northern Ireland backstop would operate. However, she did not say when the vote will eventually take place.

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The opposition leaders called on her to confirm whether the revised deal she eventually puts to the Commons will be "substantially different" from the one she pulled, and whether MPs will be given the chance to debate the Government's negotiating objectives.

The letter said: "You unilaterally announced that you will 'defer the vote scheduled for tomorrow and not proceed to divide the House at this time'. No new date has been confirmed for the conclusion of the debate or the votes.

"We believe that this shows a contempt for Parliament and to those (Honourable and Right Honourable Members who plan to speak in the debate, or those who already have. Once again the decisions of Parliament are being ignored.

"Today you admitted in the House that you are running from a heavy defeat on your deal in the House of Commons tomorrow; robbing Parliament of the opportunity to express its view on your negotiation.

"It cannot be right that the Government can unilaterally alter the arrangements, once this House has agreed on a timetable, without the House being given the opportunity to express its will."

SNP leader Mr Blackford MP said: "The meaningful vote must now be rescheduled as soon as possible. As the SNP has made clear, Brexit cannot and must not be a choice between a bad deal and no-deal.

"We believe it is time for the Prime Minister to go and for others to work together to put the decision to the people.  We must stop the Prime Minister riding roughshod over Parliament in an attempt to preserve her position."

Meanwhile, Labour has secured an emergency debate for later today on the Government's handling of the menaingful vote debate.