Appeal to MPs ahead of vote

UK’s chance of staying in EU ‘never higher’ says FM

Nicola Sturgeon speaking

Nicola Sturgeon: ‘MPs must come together to vote down the deal’ (pic: Terry Murden DB Media Services)


First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the prospect of Britain remaining in the EU has never been higher as MPs prepare to vote on the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal agreement.

In an appeal to MPs just 73 days before UK is due to end its 46-year membership, Ms Sturgeon said the “door to staying in the EU is now clearly open”.

Ahead of the vote, the First Minister said: “The chances of remaining are at their highest since the EU referendum. MPs must therefore come together to vote down this bad deal, rule out no deal, extend the Article 50 process and call another referendum. This opportunity must be grasped.”

Prime Minister Theresa May will tonight warn the Commons that rejecting her agreement could lead to a no-deal Brexit and the break-up of the UK.

Brussels offered a late glimmer of hope for Mrs May, publishing letters that offered what the Prime Minister insisted were legally enforceable assurances the controversial Irish border ‘backstop’ would not be needed.

But hardline Brexiteers and the government’s DUP allies said “there is nothing new … nothing has changed”.

In a further blow, Tory MP Gareth Johnson resigned as a government whip to oppose Mrs May’s deal.

Mrs May insisted there was no alternative to her agreement. “Over these next 24 hours, give this deal a second look,” she said in the Commons yesterday.

“No, it is not perfect. And yes, it is a compromise. “But when the history books are written, people will look at the decision of this House tomorrow and ask: Did we deliver on the country’s vote to leave the European Union? “Did we safeguard our economy, our security and our Union? Or did we let the British people down?”

John Allan, the CBI president, said the “vast majority” of business would like to see the Brexit deal passed tonight. All the CBI’s regional committees – hundreds of business around the UK – are behind the deal, he said, while accepting that it “looks extremely unlikely” it will get the backing of parliament.

“We’ll be in a new situation tomorrow morning – and frankly government needs to govern in that situation.”

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