December 12, London: British Prime Minister Theresa May faces an angry Parliament on Wednesday (Dec 12) after delaying a key vote on her Brexit deal in a desperate move that leaves the agreement and her own future in limbo. The British leader toured European capitals on Tuesday in an attempt to salvage the deal, after MPs savaged its provisions on the issue of the Irish border.
Mrs May told MPs on Monday that she was postponing a critical vote on the deal scheduled for Tuesday, admitting that it faced rejection and promising to consult EU leaders in an effort to get additional reassurances on the backstop. She has said the vote will now be held before Jan 21.
“I want ‘assurances’ from EU leaders that if Britain ever entered the so-called ‘backstop’ arrangement for the border, this would only be ‘temporary’,” said May. But she also said it was "the best deal available", adding, "There's no deal available that doesn't have a backstop."
The main opposition Labour Party has said the government is in "disarray" but is holding off on pushing ahead with a no-confidence vote to attempt to topple Mrs May so far. The Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats, which are both anti-Brexit, have urged Labour to do so and are hoping this could lead to a second referendum. A few EU supporters within Mrs May's own Conservative Party are also calling for another popular vote, while Brexit hardliners are urging fellow Conservatives to oust her.
Mrs May received sympathy from EU partners but there were firm rejections for her any attempt to reopen the agreement, which was approved by EU leaders last month following tortuous negotiations. "There is no room whatsoever for renegotiation but of course there is room, if used intelligently, to give further clarification," European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Tuesday ahead of talks with May.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said,” there was ‘no way to change’ the deal”, after meeting Mrs May.
The British leader also had a meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and is headed to Dublin today for talks with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar before an EU summit on Thursday.
Ms Pippa Catterall, professor of history and policy at the University of Westminster commented, “Mrs May could be trying to take it down to the wire... so in the end Parliament is faced with the choice: ‘my deal or no deal’.”
After her weekly Prime Minister's Questions at 1200 GMT, Mrs May will chair her first Cabinet meeting since she announced the vote delay where ministers will discuss stepping up preparations for a no-deal Brexit.