UK Prime Minister Theresa May has postponed the final vote on Brexit, thereby avoiding a parliamentary showdown, noting that she will head to Brussels to discuss “clear concerns” over the deal.
The prime minister confirmed in a statement to MPs that she had delayed the “meaningful vote” on the Brexit agreement with the EU, which had been previously scheduled for Tuesday night, saying she will instead head to an EU summit in Brussels this week to discuss the “clear concerns” of MPs about her deal’s so-called backstop arrangement, Sky News reported.
“If we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow the deal would be rejected by a significant margin”, May said, noting that the decision to defer the vote came in order to “not to divide the House at this time”.
May, who reportedly spent the whole weekend holding telephone calls with a series of EU leaders, including European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, still defended her deal. She said that if the House wants to leave the EU with a deal, it should be prepared to make compromises.
“Because there will be no enduring and successful Brexit without some compromise on both sides of the debate. Many of the most controversial aspects of this deal — including the backstop — are simply inescapable facts of having a negotiated Brexit”, May outlined.
In response to May’s statement, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said that May and her government had “lost control of events and is in complete disarray”.
“This is a bad deal for Britain, a bad deal for our economy, and a bad deal for our democracy. Our country deserves better than this”, he said, cited by The Guardian.
The Northern Irish party DUP, which is in coalition with the Conservatives, was also left unsatisfied. DUP leader Arlene Foster claimed that the delay to vote on the Brexit deal “sums up the chaotic nature of the government’s approach to these negotiations”.
“The fundamentally flawed withdrawal agreement would have undermined our United Kingdom economy and the Union itself. The backstop would have left Northern Ireland trapped as a hostage to the European Union. The prime minister must get rid of the backstop. It is not needed. No one is building a ‘hard border'”, she added.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon accused May of “pathetic cowardice” by avoiding the vote on the deal, noting that May chose the interests of her own party over the interests of the whole country.
The decision to delay the vote has also revitalised the opposition to the deal among Conservative Brexiteers. Jacob Rees-Mogg, who chairs the European Research Group of Conservative Eurosceptic MPs, renewed his threat to May’s occupancy of 10 Downing Street, saying that this is what two years of May’s attempts to handle Brexit had led to.
“This is not governing, it risks putting Jeremy Corbyn into government by failing to deliver Brexit. We cannot continue like this. The prime minister must either govern or quit”, he added.
EU leaders had already warned that there will be no renegotiations of the deal, Sky News reported, citing Varadkar and a spokesperson for Juncker. The Irish government added that preparations in Brussels for a “no-deal” outcome should “intensify”.
The House of Commons vote, determining whether the terms for the UK’s exit from the EU negotiated by May would be approved or rejected, was originally scheduled to take place on December 11.