No Brexit would be catastrophic for UK, Theresa May warns ahead of crucial vote
Failure to deliver Brexit would be “catastrophic” for the United Kingdom, British Prime Minister Theresa May has warned, in a plea for support two days before Parliament is expected to reject her deal with Brussels.
- Mrs May has so far refused to retreat from her unpopular deal
- The vexed Brexit issue represents Britain’s biggest shift in foreign and trade policy in more than 40 years
- Jeremy Corbyn says his priority is to force a national election
With the clock ticking down to its March 29 exit from the European Union and Parliament deadlocked, Britain faces a hugely uncertain path that could lead to a disorderly exit or even remaining in the bloc.
Mrs May, who postponed a vote in Parliament on her deal in December after admitting she was set to lose it, said politicians must not let down the people who backed Brexit in a June 2016 referendum.
“Doing so would be a catastrophic and unforgivable breach of trust in our democracy,” she wrote in the Sunday Express.
“So my message to Parliament this weekend is simple: it is time to forget the games and do what is right for our country.”
Mrs May has so far refused to retreat from her unpopular deal, which envisages close trading ties with the EU, but without any say on policy as Britain has now.
The vexed Brexit issue represents Britain’s biggest shift in foreign and trade policy in more than 40 years.
Mrs May’s deal has come under fire from all sides — with opponents of the EU seeking a cleaner break and many pro-Europeans pressing for a second referendum. It is expected to suffer a big defeat when Parliament votes on Tuesday (local time).
Corbyn says Brexit could be delayed if he wins election
Brexit Minister Stephen Barclay told the BBC persuading enough politicians to support the deal would be “challenging” but, even if it was rejected, he suspected Parliament would ultimately support something “along the lines of this deal”.
Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said leaving the EU without a deal would be catastrophic and his party would do everything it could to prevent that outcome.
“My own view is that I would rather get a negotiated deal now, if we can, to stop the danger of a no-deal exit from the EU on the 29th of March, which would be catastrophic for industry, catastrophic for trade,” he told the BBC.
However, Mr Corbyn’s priority is to force a national election and he said he would propose a confidence vote in the Government “soon” if Mrs May loses on Tuesday.
Mr Corbyn said that, if he forced a national election and his party won, Brexit might have to be delayed while it negotiated a new deal with the EU.
“An election would take place, what, February-March time? Clearly there is only a few weeks then between that and the leave date. There would have to be a time for those negotiations.”
Vince Cable, the leader of the pro-EU Liberal Democrats, said Parliament would act to prevent a no-deal Brexit, and could ultimately seek to prevent Brexit altogether.
“I think Parliament will take control of this process, will insist that we pursue the option of no Brexit,” he told the BBC.
Mr Cable said this could be done by revoking Article 50, the mechanism that triggered the exit process, or by holding a second referendum.
Former Conservative prime minister John Major wrote in the Sunday Times that the Government itself should revoke Article 50 and ask Parliament to consult on the options before calling another referendum.