Brexit

Back my Brexit deal or risk division and uncertainty, Theresa May to warn MPs

Following her trip to Brussels yesterday where her Brexit plan was approved by EU leaders, Theresa May will speak to the House of Commons today 
David Hughes, Press Association

Theresa May will challenge MPs to back her Brexit plan or risk crashing out of the European Union without an agreement.

The British prime minister will face the Commons after EU leaders endorsed the deal and made it clear it was not up for renegotiation.

Ms May will tell the Commons "with absolute certainty" that "there is not a better deal available".

The prime minister, who will chair a meeting of her Cabinet this morning, will warn rejecting her deal will "open the door to more division and uncertainty, with all the risks that will entail".

At a historic summit in Brussels yesterday, the leaders of the remaining 27 member states took less than 40 minutes to approve the deal.

Ms May will now put it to a vote of MPs before Christmas but faces a battle to get it through the House of Commons in the face of intense opposition on both the Leave and Remain-supporting wings of her party.

She has already started a campaign of selling her deal directly to the public in the hope their support can win round MPs opposed to the plan before the Commons vote, widely expected in the week beginning December 10.

Part of that plan could include a televised debate with Jeremy Corbyn, the Daily Telegraph reported.

A Labour Party spokesman said: "Jeremy would relish a head-to-head debate with Theresa May about her botched Brexit deal and the future of the country."

In her Commons statement the prime minister will say: "Our duty as a Parliament over these coming weeks is to examine this deal in detail, to debate it respectfully, to listen to our constituents and decide what is in our national interest.

"There is a choice which MPs will have to make. We can back this deal, deliver on the vote of the referendum and move on to building a brighter future of opportunity and prosperity for all our people.

"Or this House can choose to reject this deal and go back to square one ... It would open the door to more division and more uncertainty, with all the risks that will entail."

She will say that "the national interest is clear" and "the British people want us to get on with a deal that honours the referendum".

Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson branded the prime minister's deal a "disaster" and a "humiliation" for the UK.

In his regular Daily Telegraph column, he said: "The other EU countries have signed the deal immediately, because they know that they have us exactly where they want us.

"We are a satellite state - a memento mori fixed on the walls of Brussels as a ghastly gaping warning to all who try to escape."

More than 80 Tories have rejected the deal, with opposition parties - and Ms May's allies in the DUP - also set to oppose it.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, deputy DUP leader Nigel Dodds demanded the British government go back to the negotiating table "rather than waste any more time putting forward false choices".

"We are heading under this deal for Brexit in name only or the break-up of the United Kingdom," he warned.

"The tragedy is that it is all so utterly unnecessary."

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt insisted Ms May could carry on as prime minister if she was defeated.

"Absolutely she can," he told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show.

Pressed on whether the government could collapse, he acknowledged: "It's not possible to rule out anything."

Mr Corbyn said the deal "is the result of a miserable failure of negotiation that leaves us with the worst of all worlds".

At a press conference in Brussels, Ms May refused to be drawn on whether she would stand down if she lost the vote, despite being repeatedly pressed on the subject.

"I am focusing on ensuring that I make a case for this deal to MPs," she said.

Meanwhile, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker led the warnings there could be no return to the negotiating table if the deal - comprising the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration of future EU-UK relations - was rejected.

"This is the deal. It's the best deal possible and the EU will not change its fundamental position when it comes to these issues," he said.

"Those who think by rejecting the deal that they would have a better deal will be disappointed in the first seconds after the rejection of this deal."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: "There isn't a plan B. What's being put in front of EU Parliament and House of Commons is a deal.

"Any other deal really only exists in people's imagination."

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