MPs decide 17 days before EU exit

Business furious as May delays Brexit vote to 12 March

Theresa May on Sky News

Theresa May: says EU agreement ‘within our grasp’


Business groups have reacted with a mixture of anger, frustration and dismay at Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to delay the final Brexit vote until 17 days before the UK leaves the EU.

MPs will vote on the deal by the 12 March, said Mrs May as she travelled to an EU-Arab League summit in Egypt, ruling out holding a so-called “meaningful vote” this week.

She continued to insist that “positive” talks with EU negotiators meant that leaving on 29 March was “within our grasp”, as the Daily Telegraph was due to report that Brexit will be delayed by two months if she cannot get her deal though the Commons.

However, business leaders and opposition MPs were furious at the decision and accused her of deliberately “running down the clock” to force her backbenchers to back her deal, but leaving no time for business to prepare.

Dr Adam Marshall, director general at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:“Another day, another delay. The government’s choices mean extending business uncertainty to the last possible minute, giving firms little chance to plan with confidence for any changes that lie ahead.

“It is unbelievable to businesses that political tactics are still being put before economic considerations, especially given the fact that the consequences of a messy and disorderly Brexit on March 29 are so stark. 

“Delaying the vote until just two weeks before the UK’s planned departure from the EU raises serious concerns about the timeline of the parliamentary process, and whether there is sufficient window to reach an agreement and pass the necessary legislation to avoid a no deal exit. 

“We are well into the eleventh hour, and these endless political manoeuvres aren’t helping the businesses, communities or people of the UK to prepare for the changes that lie ahead.”

Josh Hardie, CBI Deputy Director-General, said: “This is the latest signal to businesses that no deal is hurtling closer. It must be averted. Every day without a deal means less investment and fewer jobs created. That’s the cost of running down the clock, and it’s irresponsible to treat that as a price worth paying.” 

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said the Prime Minister’s attempts to run down the clock on Brexit threatens a major economic catastrophe with jobs, businesses and living standards across the country on the line.  

“For the Tory party to gamble with the country’s future like this threatens a major economic catastrophe. We all know the Prime Minister’s deal is dead in the water. It is a false choice to threaten MPs with the prospect of crashing out of the EU with no deal or a bad deal – under every scenario Brexit will leave us all worse off, there is no such thing as a good Brexit.”

Keir Starmer, Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary, said: “This decision to further delay the meaningful vote is the height of irresponsibility and an admission of failure.

“Theresa May is recklessly running down the clock in a desperate attempt to force MPs to choose between her deal and no deal. Parliament cannot stand by and allow this to happen.”

Appeal to Mundell

Scottish Secretary David Mundell has been urged to publicly support SNP calls for an extension to Article 50, and threaten to resign from the UK Government, to avoid a disastrous No-Deal Brexit.

SNP Westminster Leader, Ian Blackford MP, has written to the Tory Cabinet Minister to urge him to finally join the SNP in standing up for Scotland’s interests – by making it clear to Theresa May that he will not serve in a UK government that is willing to impose a No-Deal Brexit on Scotland.

See also: 

Cable says Lib Dems can heal Britain’s ‘broken politics’


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