Monday 22 July 2019

Brexit Plan B? Here's everything you need to know

Mistakes: A mock ‘Theresa May’ steers HMS Brexit towards an iceberg in a stunt by protesters outside the House of Parliament in London. Photo: PA
Mistakes: A mock ‘Theresa May’ steers HMS Brexit towards an iceberg in a stunt by protesters outside the House of Parliament in London. Photo: PA

Theresa May is due to lay out her fresh plans to get a Brexit deal through the UK Parliament on Monday.

Here is everything you need to know about where the Brexit process is at:

 

Cross-party talks 'end without agreement'

Despite efforts to bridge the Brexit divide between the party leaders last week, there is no sign yet that Theresa May is prepared to scrub out her red lines.

The Prime Minister is required to update MPs on her "Plan B" in the Commons on Monday. However reports suggest she intends to instead press on with attempts to win over her own MPs and the Democratic Unionist Party by assuaging objections to the Irish backstop - aka Plan A.

 

Brexiteer shift?

The PM met with a group of Brexiteer former ministers on Thursday. Attendee John Whittingdale said it had been a "constructive meeting" and he was convinced an agreement that satisfies a majority of Tories and DUP remained possible.

Meanwhile Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group of Brexiteer MPs, has signalled that he may ultimately choose to support Mrs May's deal. Writing in the Mail on Sunday the leading Eurosceptic said that in a choice between the withdrawal agreement and no Brexit he would back her deal.

Theresa May has defied calls for a second referendum. Photo: BEN BIRCHALL/AFP/Getty Images
Theresa May has defied calls for a second referendum. Photo: BEN BIRCHALL/AFP/Getty Images

 

DUP on side?

Leader Arlene Foster and her deputy Nigel Dodds also visited Downing Street for talks last week. Mrs Foster said the issue of the backstop needed to be dealt with "in a very clear way". Mr Dodds said the details on how progress could be made were being discussed but that it was not "useful to give too much of a running comment on the details".

 

Labour attacks "appeasement" strategy

Jeremy Corbyn refused to meet with the PM unless she took "no deal" off the table. After she stood firm he branded it a "empty and hugely expensive" threat that was wasting billions of pounds of public money.

"It's a pointless and damaging attempt to appease a faction in her own party when she now needs to reach out to overcome this crisis," he said.

 

Backbenchers in motion

Mrs May will table a "neutral motion" on Monday and backbenchers are expected to table a series of amendments. One seeks to give time for a bill to suspend the Article 50 withdrawal process if there is no new deal with Brussels by the end of February.

Another would allow a motion by a minority of 300 MPs - from at least five parties and including 10 Tories - to be debated as the first item of Commons business the next day.

 

Brexiteer concerns over Commons "hijacking" referendum

The backbenchers' manoeuvres could also explain a softening of opposition to Mrs May's deal among Brexiteer MPs. On Sunday leading Brexiteer Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, accused pro-Remain MPs of trying to "hijack" the 2016 referendum vote. Downing Street said it is "extremely concerned" by the backbenchers' moves.

 

Another week to save her deal?

Despite suffering a historic defeat for her deal last Tuesday, Mrs May appears to be pushing ahead with efforts to win over enough MPs to get it through. That would mean placating the opposition of nearly 120 Tory MPs and the DUP. The bill will be debated and voted on - along with any amendments tabled by MPs - on January 29. Britain is scheduled to leave the EU on March 29.

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