Brexiteers demand Theresa May delays crunch Commons vote after she wins deal changes

Posted On: 
12th March 2019

A raft of senior Brexiteers have called for the meaningful vote to be delayed to allow them to fully examine the details of Theresa May’s new backstop plan.

Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan-Smith led calls for the vote to be delayed
Credit: 
PA

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan-Smith called for the government to “push back” the Brexit vote, just hours before MPs are set to begin debating the updated proposals.

Last night, Mrs May secured new, "legally binding" assurances from the EU aimed at bolstering the UK’s ability to unilaterally leave the controversial Irish backstop proposal, which would come into force should talks on a future arrangement breakdown.

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But speaking as the proposals were announced, Mr Duncan-Smith told MPs: “Given all of that and the number of issues here on the joint legally binding instruments and also this interplay between the UK’s unilateral ability to revoke the backstop and then refer to an independent tribunal, my question really is: given all of that - the Attorney General giving a statement - would it not be better for the Attorney General to appear here in the House to explain his findings and to be questioned?

“And maybe, if that takes longer, for to push back the vote to the following date?

“It’s better to know what we are voting on than it is to rush that vote and then repent.”

Meanwhile, Jacob Rees-Mogg, chair of the European Research Group of Brexit-backing MPs, told PoliticsHome it "would be better" if Parliament was given an extra 24-hours to examine the new proposals. Tory MP Peter Bone told PoliticsHome that he would also support a delay to the vote.

Both Tory Brexiteers and the DUP are waiting for fresh legal advice from Attorney General Geoffrey Cox setting out the UK’s ability to unilaterally leave the backstop mechanism before publicly declaring how they will vote.

It is expected that Brexit-backing Tory MPs will formally make the case for a delay when they meet with the Prime Minsiter later this morning.

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis said: “This all now depends on the Attorney General’s legal advice. It is critical that he confirms we can escape this backstop.”

"Sympathetic"

Fellow Brexiteer Connor Burns added: “This is a very important moment. Very complex papers to be read and legal opinions to be made. After almost 3 years since the vote I think it would be sensible to wait 24 hours before holding the vote to allow MPs to properly look at what was only proposed late last night.

Earlier this morning, DUP leader Arlene Foster told the BBC her party were looking carefully at the documents but was “sympathetic” to demands for a delay.

But speaking to the BBC’s Today programme, Environment Secretary Michael Gove insisted tonight’s vote would go ahead as planned as he warned MPs it was “make up your mind time”.

“If we don’t back this new improved deal tonight, we may find ourselves having Brexit delayed and diluted, which I think would be a grave error and would not honour the vote of 17.4 million people,” he said.

He added: “The point is don’t pre-empt the judgement of the House of Commons tonight.”

“Theresa May has not failed she has succeeded in doing in what the House of Commons asked her to do, which is to secure an amendment to the withdrawal agreement.”