06/12/2018 10:08 GMT

The Brexit Deal Vote Will Not Be Postponed, Theresa May Says

PM hints MPs could be offered vote on the backstop.


Theresa May has said she will not delay or scrap the vote on her Brexit deal, scheduled for next Tuesday.

“We are in the middle of five days of debate in parliament which will lead up to a vote on this issue,” she told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme on Thursday.

It was reported this morning that even some cabinet ministers have urged May to postpone of ditch the vote – which she is expected to lose heavily.

May also hinted she could promise MPs they would be given a vote on whether or not the UK enters the backstop in an attempt to win over rebels worried the UK could end up trapped in the fallback position indefinitely. 

She said that, while there is “no unilateral right” to pull out of the backstop, the UK would have a choice over whether or not to enter into it.

“If we get to the point where it might be needed, we have a choice as to what we do, so we don’t even have to go into the backstop at that point,” she said.

“The backstop is something nobody wants to go into in the first place, and we will be working to make sure that we don’t go into it.”

Ahead of the vote on December 11, May was given a stark warning that her premiership could be ended if she ploughs ahead with her deal.

The Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May’s administration, made clear it would support the government in a confidence motion if the Brexit deal was rejected by MPs.

But the party’s 10 MPs would not back the prime minister if her deal, including the controversial Northern Ireland backstop measure, survives.

Labour has indicated it will table a motion of no confidence in the prime minister in the wake of a defeat on such a pivotal issue for May.

Tory resistance to the Brexit plan could be bolstered by the knowledge that voting down the deal will not necessarily result in the collapse of the Government given the DUP’s stance.

The DUP’s Westminster leader Nigel Dodds said it would be “illogical” for his party to turn on the Tories if it had already seen off the Brexit deal.

Tory Chief Whip Julian Smith attended a meeting with the European Research Group (ERG) of Brexiteers in Parliament on Wednesday night and was said to be in “listening” mode.

Meanwhile members of the Privy Council – senior MPs and former ministers – had been invited to a briefing with the Cabinet Office’s Civil Contingencies Secretariat to be told about the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit.

Debate on the Brexit agreement will continue in the Commons on Thursday.