PM shifts position
May offers MPs vote on delaying Britain’s exit from EU
The Prime Minister has shifted her position
Theresa May surrendered to pressure from all sides of the Commons by promising MPs a vote on ruling out a no-deal Brexit or delaying the UK’s departure.
In a significant shift in her thus far intransigent position, Mrs May attempted to head off the threat of a revolt by Remain-supporting ministers, including Home Secretary Amber Rudd. She is now offering a meaningful vote on her Brexit deal by 12 March if MPs again reject her deal.
If that fails, MPs will be offered two further votes:
- One, on the following day, on whether MPs support a no-deal Brexit
- If that fails, then MPs will get a vote by 14 March to delay EU withdrawal beyond 29 March
Her statement helped the pound to strengthen against the euro and the dollar. However, she insisted that she was still working towards exiting by 29 March.
“Let me be clear, I do not want to see Article 50 extended,” she told MPs in another fiery debate in the Commons. “Our absolute focus should be on working to get a deal and leaving on 29 March.
“An extension beyond the end of June would mean the UK taking part in the European Parliament elections. What kind of message would that send to the more than 17 million people who voted to leave the EU nearly three years ago now?
“And the House should be clear that a short extension – not beyond the end of June – would almost certainly have to be a one-off.”
But the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford, pictured, said she “could not be trusted” not to “dodge” another meaningful vote.
He said: “It’s the height of irresponsibility for any government to threaten its citizens with these consequences. Rule out no deal, extend Article 50, but do it today – this should not be left until the middle of March.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described the prime minister’s handling of Brexit negotiations as “grotesquely reckless”.
Scottish Labour backs Brexit over second vote
Richard Leonard has confirmed that Scottish Labour would prefer Brexit to go ahead than to trigger a second EU referendum.
After the party finally confirmed that it may support a new poll, Mr Leonard told ITV Borders he’d rather have Brexit under a Labour deal than a second referendum, but would “almost certainly” campaign for remain if there was another vote.
The intervention follows Neil Findlay, Scottish Labour’s Brexit spokesperson, refusing to say whether Remain should be on the ballot if a second referendum goes ahead.
Commenting, SNP MSP George Adam said: “Richard Leonard has today confirmed that Scottish Labour is pro-Brexit – something that will utterly dismay many of its own supporters.
“The clock is ticking on Brexit and we desperately need parties to work together against Theresa May’s bad deal and against No-deal.
“But almost as soon as Labour say they could support a second referendum, Richard Leonard says it would be better for Brexit to go ahead.
“That puts Labour completely at odds with the Scottish people – and it makes their apparent embrace of a second referendum look cynical in the extreme.
“It’s time for all parties to throw their weight behind a public vote, with Remain on the ballot, and put an end to this Brexit mess.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “Brexit would be bad for the economy and public services whether you paint it blue or red.
“Like Jeremy Corbyn, Richard Leonard has been reluctantly manoeuvred towards a People’s Vote but it’s disappointing that they are still not ruling out a Labour-led Brexit.
“Anyone in the Labour party disappointed by the cynical triangulation of the Labour leadership should know that Scottish Liberal Democrats have been unwavering in support of a People’s Vote and the chance to remain in the EU.”