Lifeline for May as MPs table amendment giving Commons backstop trigger role

Prime Minister Theresa May

Prime Minister Theresa May

Theresa May rejected calls to delay a vote by MPs on her Brexit deal but left open the possibility to give lawmakers a vote on whether to enter into the Northern Ireland backstop on Thursday (6 December).

Britain's Finance Minister Philip Hammond concurred, saying it is a delusion to think that the government will be able to negotiate a new divorce deal if May's agreement is defeated in a vote in Parliament next week.

The poll comes after the prime minister last month delivered the three option ultimatum to her MPs: her deal, no deal or no Brexit.

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow announces the result of a vote in which MPs approved a motion which finds ministers in contempt of Parliament and orders the immediate publication of the "final and full" legal advice on the Brexit deal.

Mr Whittaker (Calder Valley) said: "As the deal is only about the withdrawal and implementation period, I am quite pragmatic about the agreement".

"Ever since the referendum in 2016 my priority has been to help secure a Brexit deal which puts jobs and the economy first".


The policy will also make it harder for non-EU family members to join their loved ones in the United Kingdom, with the deadline being brought forward to 29 March 2022.

However after seeing the document, Labour shadow attorney-general Sir Keir Starmer said "all this advice reveals is the central weaknesses in the government's deal".

The vote on Tuesday found the government in contempt of Parliament for ignoring a Commons vote demanding publication of its legal advice.

Leadsom warned that in the future: "Law officers advising Cabinet will be very reluctant to give any advice to government that they might then see published on the front pages of newspapers".

In an interesting aside, Stephens noted that it is unlikely that Cox himself would have actually written the advice; it would be usual for an attorney-general to seek advice from a legal expert in that field. In response, the government was due to publish it on Wednesday, after ministers agreed to release the advice in full. But the defeat demonstrated the fragility of May's government, which does not have a majority in Parliament.

In the full written advice by the attorney general, which the government was forced to publish after lawmakers found it in contempt of parliament, ministers are warned that the "backstop" insurance policy relating to Northern Ireland could last "indefinitely" if relations with the European Union break down.


"But we still think she will get it through, eventually", said another European Union diplomat dealing with Brexit.

More than 20,000 people were asked to rank their preferences for Britain's future on Brexit - choosing between the Brexit deal, a no deal and remaining in the EU.

DUP MP Ian Paisley has said "nothing concentrates the mind like a hanging", in an apparent reference to Theresa May's Brexit withdrawal agreement.

As the parliamentary debate plays out over the next few days, there are numerous scenarios being thrown up if the premier is unable to get support for her deal in the crucial December 11 vote.

"Having achieved our aim, trying to get to a better deal, it would be a bit illogical to turn around the next day and say, right, let's get the government out", Mr Dodds told ITV television.

May faced the prospect of "hitting a brick wall at speed" and predicted that no consensus would found in the House of Commons on Brexit.


He confirmed that, if the deal was rejected and Labour's preferred outcome - a general election - was not on offer, "all options" remained on the table, including "the option of campaigning for a public vote to break the deadlock".

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