Softer Brexit is now an option, says Justice Secretary

#Brexit special section Daily news

MPs should not be ignored if they vote for a softer Brexit this week, the Justice Secretary David Gauke said today.

Parliament will hold an indicative vote on Brexit alternatives tomorrow and a customs union with the EU is emerging as a strong preference

Gauke told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show that Theresa May’s deal was ‘the best outcome’ but admitted that there are no ideal Brexit choices.

He said: “Sometimes you do have to accept your second or third choice to avoid an outcome you consider to be even worse.”

Gauke added that favoured leaving the customs union, as it would “better reflect the way the country voted in 2016”.

Customs union membership would breach the Conservative manifesto of 2017, but Gauke said they don’t have the votes to ensure it is kept off the table.

“We are in an environment where it is not just about going for your first choice,” he added.

Gauke repeated his opposition to a no-deal Brexit and said he would quit the Cabinet government if it was pursued.

Theresa May is pondering her next move after her withdrawal plan was rejected for a third time by MPs last week.

She has until April 12 to get it through Parliament, of ask for a longer extension to the Article 50 process if the UK is to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

But her deal is opposed by Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party as well as many of her own MPs.

Leading Tory Brexiteer Steve Baker told the Sunday Telegraph today that May’s deal “cannot be allowed to go through at any cost”.

The next steps

  • Monday, April 1:MPs will hold more votes on Brexit options to try and find a way forward
  • Wednesday, 3 April 3:There could be another series of ‘indicative votes’
  • Wednesday, April 10: EU leaders hold an emergency summit to consider any UK request for a Brexit extension
  • Friday, April 12:The deadline for the UK to leave the EU if it does not seek, or is granted, a further delay

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