UK in ‘uncharted territory’ if MPs reject my deal, says PM

#Brexit special section Commentary

The Prime Minister said today the UK will enter ‘uncharted territory’ if Parliament rejects her Brexit deal next week.

Theresa May said next week’s Commons vote on her EU withdrawal agreement would definitely go ahead, even though she is still facing a defeat.

She said she would redouble her efforts to win MPs over and promised concessions to allay the fears of opponents on all sides, including her own party.

There will be new safeguards for Northern Ireland and the controversial border backstop to ensure it does not become permanent, she said.

The Prime Minister also said she was looking at ways to give MPs more of a say in future negotiations with the EU.

But she warned that if MPs voted down her deal, Brexit itself would be at risk and that the planned departure date of March 29 was ‘in danger.’

A deal on the terms of the UK’s departure and a framework for future relations was agreed between the Prime Minister and the EU last year.

But it attracted widespread opposition from MPs and a planned December Commons vote was postponed when it became clear Mrs May was heading for a heavy defeat.

The vote is now due to go ahead on January 14 or 15 and Mrs May says that rejection of her agreement could lead to the UK leaving the EU without a deal.

She said the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that it was a “good deal” for the country and that it was up to opponents to come forward with any alternatives.

Mrs May said the EU had agreed to some changes and talks with European leaders were ongoing as she tried to give MPs ‘confidence’ to support her deal.

She said concessions would be announced soon in three areas:

  • More specific measures for Northern Ireland.
  • A bigger role for Parliament in negotiations on future UK-EU relations.
  • Assurances from the EU to address opposition to the Irish border backstop.

Mrs May said: “If the deal is not voted on, we are going to be in uncharted territory. I don’t think anyone can say what will happen in terms of the reaction we see in Parliament.

“What you have is a Labour leadership opposing any deal to create the greatest chaos possible, people promoting a second referendum and people who want to see their perfect Brexit.”

Brexiteer Tory MP Peter Bone told Sophy Ridge of Sky News the best option was to leave without a deal and that many fellow MPs were coming out in support of that.

He said: “If there has been a change it is a hardening of attitudes among MPs to a no deal.”

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