POLITICS
12/02/2019 15:48 GMT | Updated 12/02/2019 16:23 GMT

Theresa May Savaged Over New Plan To Rush Brexit Deal Through Commons Days Before Exit Day

Jeremy Corbyn says she's trying to "blackmail" MPs with last-minute vote.

PA Ready News UK

Theresa May was accused of “rigging parliament” after she unveiled plans to rush her Brexit deal through the Commons.

The prime minister shocked MPs with a new move to bounce them into agreeing her proposals just days before the UK is due to quit the EU on March 29.

May revealed that she planned to tear up a law requiring a 21-day period of consultation for the ratification of any international treaty by the Commons.

The 2010 Constitutional Reform and Governance Act (CRAG) will be effectively suspended in forthcoming Brexit legislation to allow the Tories to leave approval of her deal until the very last minute.

Jeremy Corbyn accused May of trying to “blackmail” MPs by “running down the clock” to March 29, which marks the end of the two-year Article 50 process for quitting the EU.

And shadow Brexit minister Paul Bloomfield said May’s plan to “rig parliament” would be vigorously opposed by Labour.

This plan shows contempt for our democracy. The government is trying to avoid proper scrutiny to force through its bad Brexit deal,” he told HuffPost UK.

As she struggles to get EU approval for a reworked Brexit deal, May told the Commons she wanted at least two more weeks before allowing MPs to hold yet another vote on alternatives to her proposals.

Her official spokesman later warned that anyone who opposed the plan would be effectively trying to “hold up” Brexit.

“It is very hard to see a circumstance where having voted to pass the deal and then voted to enshrine its provisions in law, Parliament could hold up our exit to allow MPs to read the treaty,” he said.

But the PM was accused of “playing Russian roulette” with MPs as she refused to deny that she would leave any “meaningful vote” on her deal until late March.

Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, of the Best for Britain pro-EU campaign, said: “May will stop at nothing to crowbar through her botched Brexit deal even if that means ripping up the statute book and subverting parliamentary scrutiny and process.”

With just 45 days to exit day, former attorney general Dominic Grieve had warned May that time was running short for ratification of any deal.

She replied: “While we will follow normal procedure if we can, where there is insufficient time remaining following a meaningful vote, we will make provision in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill with Parliament’s consent, to ensure that we are able to ratify on time to guarantee our exit in an orderly way.”

When challenged about the timetable, she replied that the consultation period was not needed because “the vast majority” of the exit treaty “would not be changed” in talks with the EU, and would have already been debated at length.

May repeatedly said she wanted the UK to leave “on time” as planned, on March 29, adding: “We now all need to hold our nerve to get the changes this House requires.”

Corbyn added: “This is an irresponsible act. She is playing for time and playing with people’s jobs, our economic security and the future of our industry.”

Following HuffPost UK’s report on her now contemplating a no-deal Brexit, May refused to rule out the prospect and stressed that she wanted the “support of all members of my party”.

“Every time somebody votes against the, the risk of no-deal increases,” she declared.

Earlier, Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom also refused to rule out the government delaying its final Brexit vote until late March.

Pressed on whether the deal might not happen until after an EU summit on March 21 – just eight days before the UK is due to leave - Leadsom said only: “The prime minister is seeking to bring back the meaningful vote just as soon as possible.”

May pledged to return on February 26 with a further statement – triggering another debate and votes the following day – if she has not secured a deal by that date.