Tuesday 23 October 2018

May faces revolt from MPs over EU leaving date

British Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
British Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Steven Swinford

Nearly 20 Conservative MPs are threatening to rebel against plans to enshrine the date of Brexit in law.

They confronted Julian Smith, the new chief whip, during a meeting on Monday to express their fury at the UK government's plans.

The rebels include many Tory MPs who are usually loyal, but are concerned that fixing the date of Brexit to March 29, 2019, will "tie our hands" in negotiations.

Parliament will be given a "take it or leave it" vote on Brexit after ministers agreed to enshrine the deal in law in a significant government concession.

Brexit Secretary,David Davis announced MPs and peers would be given a binding vote on the final deal with Brussels. However, he warned MPs that Britain would leave the EU without a deal in March 2019 if they vote down the agreement with Brussels.

Former chancellor Ken Clarke said the government's amendment to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill was "ridiculous and unnecessary".

British Brexit Secretary David Davis arriving for the weekly cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
British Brexit Secretary David Davis arriving for the weekly cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

He said there would have to be a vote on the deal and legislation, which could take place after Brexit "particularly if the government's amendments are passed which increases that risk".

Those present at Monday's meeting said it had been "brutal" as MPs vented their fury. It is inderstood said 18 Tory MPs attended the meeting - more than enough to defeat the government if Labour joined them in voting against the amendment next month.

Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the foreign affairs select committee, was among those who attended.

Anna Soubry, a former minister, told the BBC: "It was stormy because you have got people at that meeting who have never spoken out. The date going into the bill has really upset a lot of really top-quality backbench Conservative MPs."

The rebels are also furious with an article written by Prime Minister Theresa May in 'The Daily Telegraph' in which she warned she would not "tolerate" MPs using the EU withdrawal bill to undermine Brexit.

Meanwhile, a senior ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Mrs May Brexit trade talks will not be given the green light next month.

Ahead of a meeting with the prime minister today, German MEP Manfred Weber said it "doesn't look like" the December summit of European leaders would agree to move to the next phase of talks.

The prime minister hoped the December 14-15 summit would agree sufficient progress had been made on key divorce issues to allow talks on trade and an implementation period to begin.

These are the financial settlement with Brussels, the Northern Ireland Border and the rights of citizens. ( ©Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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