Jeremy Hunt: MPs could get no Brexit if they reject Theresa May's deal

Posted On: 
11th January 2019

MPs risk keeping Britain in the European Union if they reject the Brexit deal Theresa May clinched with Brussels, Jeremy Hunt has warned.

Jeremy Hunt said failure to deliver Brexit would be a breach of trust with voters
PA Images

The Foreign Secretary said a failure to back the deal on Tuesday would lead to “Brexit paralysis” and eventually the possible cancellation of the UK’s departure from the bloc.

He suggested parliament would block a no-deal Brexit - which Mrs May has long warned could be a consequence of rejecting her blueprint.

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And he hit out at the Speaker John Bercow in the wake of a parliamentary row this week, saying the Commons boss was “willing to frustrate the Government at every opportunity”.

Mrs May’s Brexit deal is expected to be rejected when MPs give their verdict next Tuesday - possibly by more than 220 votes, according to research by the BBC.

The Government has warned that the UK could crash out of the bloc with nothing when the Article 50 clock ticks down to 29 March, unless a deal is in place.

But Mr Hunt, who has previously talked up a no-deal Brexit, argued the more likely outcome of voting down the deal would be no Brexit at all.

He said it was "very unrealistic to think, if Parliament set its mind to it, it wouldn’t find a way” to prevent a no-deal departure.

“If this deal is rejected, ultimately what we may end up with is not a different type of Brexit but Brexit paralysis,” he told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4.

“And Brexit paralysis ultimately could lead to no Brexit.”

He argued: “If we were as a political class not to deliver Brexit that will be a fundamental breach of trust between the people and the politicians and I think that is something that we would regret for many many generations.”

Angry Tory MPs and the DUP - who prop up Mrs May's minority government - argue the Northern Ireland backstop plan to keep the Irish border open will tie the UK to EU rules indefinitely and risk the breakup of the Union.

The Prime Minister has offered parliament a greater say on whether the backstop is triggered, and promised safeguards for Stormont - but has so far failed to get hoped-for concessions from Brussels.


Mr Hunt also issued a surprise attack on Mr Bercow - who was slammed by MPs this week after he broke with Commons precedent to allow an amendment to parliamentary business to be voted on.

The amendment - which was passed by MPs - orders Mrs May to return to the Commons with a plan B within three days if her deal is rejected.

Mr Hunt said: “We have a government that is committed to delivering Brexit, but it doesn’t have a majority and we have seen this week that there is a speaker who is willing to frustrate the Govt at every opportunity.”

Mr Bercow yesterday said he would continue to do his job "no matter how much abuse I get from whatever quarter".