Thursday 17 October 2019

May struggles for control as ministers lay out rival plans in case her deal voted down

Andrea Leadsom
Andrea Leadsom

David Hughes

Theresa May is battling to maintain cabinet discipline as senior ministers set out rival plans for dealing with the rejection of her Brexit plan.

The British prime minister insisted she was focused on getting her deal through parliament, despite cabinet members Andrea Leadsom and Amber Rudd speculating about what might happen if MPs throw out the Withdrawal Agreement in January.

Commons Leader Ms Leadsom said a "managed no-deal" was a possibility, while Work and Pensions Secretary Ms Rudd acknowledged there was a "plausible argument" for a second referendum.

Mrs May said: "Cabinet ministers and I have all been very clear that we are working and focusing on working on ensuring that we can get the deal that we've agreed with the European Union agreed and through parliament in the meaningful vote."

Mrs May said yesterday the UK was still seeking "greater political and legal reassurances" from the EU over elements of her plan, particularly the backstop measures designed to prevent a hard border in Ireland, before it is put before MPs in January.

She added: "Everybody is very clear that not only what government policy is but what we are all individually and collectively focused on is working to ensure that that deal is able to be agreed by and go through a meaningful vote in the House of Commons."

Brexiteer Ms Leadsom suggested she had been looking at the option of a managed no-deal - with a minimalist agreement with the EU - as an alternative to Mrs May's proposed deal.

In signs of further division, Ms Leadsom said a second referendum would be "unacceptable" - just hours after Ms Rudd's comments.

Ms Rudd, a prominent Remain supporter, insisted she was not calling for a referendum but wanted MPs across the Commons to reach a consensus to prevent a no-deal Brexit. Her intervention was welcomed as a "massive moment" by campaigners calling for a 'People's Vote'.

Irish Independent

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