Brexit deal defeat could topple UK gov't, May says

Published 10.12.2018 00:30
Updated 10.12.2018 08:00

Prime Minister Theresa May warned yesterday that parliament's rejection of her Brexit deal could leave Britain in the European Union and bring the opposition Labor Party to power. The embattled leader's message came with her government fearing a heavy defeat tomorrow of the draft withdrawal agreement she signed with Brussels last month.

Media reports said May is under pressure from her cabinet to delay the vote and fly to Brussels to secure more concessions ahead of a planned summit with 27 fellow EU leaders on Thursday and Friday. But Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay told the BBC: "The vote is going ahead."

May said Britain "would truly be in uncharted waters" if the draft struck after nearly two years of tough talks is voted down less than four months before the March 29 Brexit date. It would mean grave uncertainty for the nation with a very real risk of no Brexit," she told the Mail on Sunday. "We have a leader of the opposition who thinks of nothing but attempting to bring about a general election, no matter what the cost to the country... I believe Jeremy Corbyn getting his hands on power is a risk we cannot afford to take."

May is facing her biggest crisis since coming to power a month after the nation voted by a 52-48 margin in June 2016 to leave the world's largest single market after 46 years. She is under attack from more strident Brexit backers in her own party as well as Europhiles who want either a second referendum or a pact that maintains stronger EU-UK ties than the one offered by May.

Her comments yesterday were aimed at tamping down the hardline Conservative Party revolt led by the likes of her former foreign minister Boris Johnson. May's team has been arguing for a number of days that her vision offers the cleanest break between the UK and EU that Brexit supporters can hope for at this late stage. But Johnson used a column in the Sun yesterday to argue that "the best way to get a great deal is to prepare for no deal" by rejecting May's draft.

Corbyn's party is hoping that failure in parliament tomorrow will trigger a broader revolt that leads to early elections and returns Labor to power for the first time since 2010.

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