Theresa May’s new Brexit deal faces defeat after leading Tory MPs lined up to reject it.
Britain’s EU departure was plunged into chaos again today – despite Mrs May a new 26-page ‘declaration’ on future trade with Brussels.
Mrs May had hoped the new pact, her rabbit out of a hat, would persuade Tory Brexit-backers to swing behind her deal.
Even tonight No10 insisted there was “strong support” for the deal from the Cabinet and Mrs May would win a Commons vote.
But just hours after she published it, key Tories – including Boris Johnson – lined up to say the package was unacceptable.
Even Owen Paterson and Iain Duncan Smith, who Mrs May singled out for thanks for their “ideas”, said they could not back the deal.
That means the entire deal could face a crushing defeat in the House of Commons before Christmas.
That would send Brexit back to square one, throw the UK into chaos, and could force the Prime Minister from office.
It could lead to a general election or even a second EU referendum – which she has called “no Brexit at all”.
Today’s document, together with a 585-page ‘withdrawal agreement’, is set to be approved by 27 EU leaders at a summit this Sunday.
Last week’s withdrawal text had angered Tories, Labour and the DUP by keeping the UK under EU customs rules if there is no solution to the Northern Ireland border.
It could also extend the Brexit ‘transition period’ to December 2022 – after the next election.
So Mrs May tried to soothe nerves by agreeing a 26-page ‘declaration’ on future trade this morning with EU chiefs.
The declaration promises a “free trade area” and a future deal on fishing.
But it stops short of the “frictionless trade” Mrs May wanted, warns the UK would keep “deep” links to EU regulations, and keeps some ties to the European Court of Justice.
Key points from UK’s 611-page Brexit deal with EU
The EU has agreed a two-part Brexit deal – and it has enraged Tories. Here are some of the reasons why:
- The transition period can be extended until December 2022 – after next election
- Goods face being checked between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK
- We need the EU’s permission to quit the ‘backstop’
- European courts will still have a big hold on the UK
We’d need ‘deep’ co-operation with EU rules
We could have to allow access to our fishing waters
And finally… the whole thing is very vague
FOR THE FULL GUIDE CLICK HERE
And the Prime Minister’s deal was today trashed by leading Brexiteers as she tried to defend it in the House of Commons.
Boris Johnson said nothing in her new pact would change the “backstop” – backup plan – which could trap the UK in EU rules.
He called on her to “junk” the backstop which “makes a complete nonsense of Brexit”.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Brexiteer ringleader who has sent a no confidence letter in the PM, warned her deal made EU law superior.
Will Theresa May win the Brexit deal vote?
Theresa May has a Brexit deal, but the danger is looming that it will be defeated in the House of Commons.
Even getting it past her Cabinet forced Esther McVey and Dominic Raab to resign. Now she faces two more hurdles – an EU summit with 27 leaders on November 25, and then the vote in Parliament at some point before Christmas.
MPs are grouped in several factions – their warring opinions are explained more fully here.
But if 318 or more vote against the deal, they will defeat the deal.
Against the deal
TORY BREXITEERS: There are up to 60 (but probably a lot fewer), led by Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg. They will vote down a deal that keeps Britain trapped in “vassalage” with Brussels.
TORY HARD REMAINERS: Only about a dozen, but many – including Justine Greening and Jo Johnson – will vote against, instead wanting a second referendum.
DUP: Theresa May’s Northern Irish allies – who she handed £1.5bn – are 10-strong. They will vote down the deal if it allows customs checks between Ulster and Britain.
LABOUR LOYALISTS: About 150 MPs are consistently loyal to Jeremy Corbyn on Brexit. The party has confirmed they’ll be told to vote against the deal because it doesn’t meet Labour’s ‘six tests’.
LABOUR REMAINERS: There are about 50 hard Remainer Labour MPs. They’re likely to oppose the deal to avoid enabling a Brexit.
OTHERS: The SNP (35), Lib Dems (12), Plaid Cymru (4) and Greens (1) are all likely to vote against.
For the deal
TORY LOYALISTS: Well over 200 are likely to vote with Theresa May, for the deal. Many have paid government jobs – so would have to quit if they oppose her.
‘NERVOUS LABOUR’: Some Labour MPs could BACK a deal – fearing otherwise Britain will be plunged into an even worse No Deal. There could be 20 or more. Caroline Flint is among them.
LABOUR BREXITEERS: There are only about half a dozen. It was generally thought they’d side with Theresa May, but Kate Hoey MP broke ranks and said she could vote against.
And former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said the deal “gives even more away” to the EU.
Earlier this week Brexiteers Iain Duncan Smith and Owen Paterson visited No10 with “tech experts” in a bid to find a solution for the Northern Ireland border.
Mrs May thanked them for their “ideas” in her speech.
But Owen Paterson returned her praise by warning her deal spelt “the horror of Northern Ireland being split off”.
And Iain Duncan Smith said: “None of this is at all workable unless we get the Withdrawal Agreement now amended.”
Brexit deal countdown
25 November 2018: Emergency EU summit with 27 other leaders to sign off the deal.
Early December? A vote in the House of Commons on the deal.
13 December: The last chance EU Council summit, where deal could come back for more negotiation.
20 December: Parliament rises for its Christmas break. Final or ‘re-run’ vote by MPs must be held before now. If it fails there could be no deal, or a general election, or a second EU referendum.
29 March 2019: Brexit Day. If there’s a deal, this will be a total anticlimax because a transition will be in place. If there’s No Deal, planes could be grounded, ports jammed up and customs checks thrown into chaos at 11pm.
31 December 2020: If there’s a deal, this is when the transition period – which continues pretty much all the EU rules we have now – is supposed to end. But it could be extended by two more years.
1 January 2021: If there’s still no deal, under current plans a “backstop” would kick in. This could keep the UK tied to EU customs rules, until a proper agreement is reached, in exchange for keeping the Northern Ireland border open.
Mrs May today told MPs a final deal is “within our grasp” and said the new text was a “good deal for our country and our partners in the EU”.
She tried to take on Tory criticisms head-on, saying it “ends the jurisdiction” of EU courts in the UK, would not “trade off” access to UK fishing waters, and “ends free movement once and for all”.
But Jeremy Corbyn dismissed it as “waffle”, telling MPs: “She says nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. It’s clear from this document that indeed, nothing is agreed.
“This is the blindfold Brexit we all feared – a leap into the dark.”
A Number 10 spokesman said the Prime Minister was “seeking to persuade all of our colleagues of the merits of this deal and requesting their support.” He added she was confident of winning the vote in the Commons.