British Prime Minister Theresa May faces a day of reckoning as MPs vote on her “new improved” Brexit deal on Tuesday evening, with just 17 days until the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union.
May’s deal and her authority on Brexit remain in the balance, with prospects of her securing the backing of parliamentarians fading fast and a no-deal Brexit scenario growing ever more likely. The last meaningful vote took place on January 15 and was rejected by 432 votes to 202.
Opening the Brexit debate up, the prime minister struggled terribly with her voice, to bring back memories of her nightmare speech at the 2017 Tory Conference, when she was hit with a severely sore throat.
May warned that failure to vote for the deal could lead to there being no Brexit at all, in what may be seen as a plea to Tory Brexiteers and Labour MPs in ‘Leave-supporting’ constituencies in the UK.
On the issue of delaying Brexit, May claimed that the EU may insist on a second referendum in exchange for extending Article 50.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, responding to the prime minister’s statement slammed the Brexit deal, claiming “on the substance, nothing has changed.” He told the House that his party would be voting against May’s agreement as it would make British citizens poorer.
The ERG, the hardline Brexiteer group who have pushed for the complete removal or significant legal changes to the Irish backstop are reportedly poised to vote May’s deal down.
The Times’ deputy political editor, Sam Coates, reports that the ERG’s lawyers at “Star Chamber” have concluded that the prime minister’s “improved” proposal “does not provide any exit mechanism from the protocol [the Irish backstop].”
The DUP’s leader Arlene Foster has revealed via social media, that her party will vote against May’s deal, claiming that “the risks remain” as the UK would be unable to “lawfully exit the backstop were it to be activated.”
There are already requests for the prime minister to call a general election if she loses the meaningful vote tonight. Tory MP Charles Walker has claimed on BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme that May requires “a new mandate for the sake of the country” – adding “We cannot go on trying to govern like this.”
A series of political journalists are also predicting the downfall of Theresa May. Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times, has taken to Twitter to suggest that all options are “up for grabs including PM job and general election.”
Here we go. Tory grandee Charles Walker demands PM calls a general election if she loses Meaningful Vote tonight: “She has to get a new mandate for the sake of the country. Needs must when the devil drives. We cannot go on trying to govern like this” #WATO
— Tom Newton Dunn (@tnewtondunn) March 12, 2019
Commons feels like a funeral parlour right now. Extraordinary mood. On what should be May’s biggest day on Brexit.
— Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) March 12, 2019
It’s over. The deal and perhaps May’s premiership. The DUP & the ERG & Cox have seen to that. What’s extraordinary is that no-one knows what happens next
— Nick Robinson (@bbcnickrobinson) March 12, 2019
DUP thumbs down to May’s Brexit deal. They think it’s all over – it is now. Best Option now is for Parliament to vote overwhelmingly against No deal tmw – and then support article 50 extension. All up for grabs including PM job and general election #BrexitCrisis
— Lionel Barber (@lionelbarber) March 12, 2019
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned on Monday night that it [the vote] would be the last chance for Britain to pass a negotiated divorce with the EU before the Marсh 30 deadline.
“There will be no third chance,” the top European official said. “There will be no further interpretations of the interpretations; no further assurances of the re-assurances – if the meaningful vote tomorrow fails.”
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