TORY PM May would not commit to a vote on her Brexit deal yesterday before Parliament breaks up for Christmas and instead said: ‘I can confirm today that we will return to the Meaningful Vote Debate in the week commencing the 7th of January and hold the vote the following week.’
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said: ‘The deal is unchanged and not going to change, the House must get on with the vote and move on to consider the realistic alternatives.’
He then asked May three questions: ‘One, does her deal still have the confidence of her own cabinet? ‘Two, is cabinet collective responsibility still in operation? ‘Three, does it remain government policy to avoid a no deal outcome?
‘An unacceptable deal is on the table, no amendment has been secured, renegotions have been rebuffed by the EU and the Prime Minister’s shoddy deal no longer even has the backing of the cabinet.’
He added: ‘… The Prime Minister has cynically run down the clock trying manoeuvre Parliament into a choice between two unacceptable outcomes – her deal or no deal.’ He concluded: ‘There can be no further attempts to dodge the accountability of this government to this Parliament.’
Answering his questions May said: ‘Does the deal have the confidence of the cabinet? Yes. Does cabinet collective responsibility still apply? Yes, and does the cabinet want to avoid no deal? Yes. The cabinet wants to ensure we leave the European Union with a good deal and that is this deal.’
She insisted: ‘No deal is better than a bad deal, but this is a good deal.’
In her statement on last week’s meeting with the EU, she said: ‘At this council I faithfully and firmly reflected the concerns of this house over the Northern Ireland backstop.
‘I explained that the assurances that we had already agreed with the EU were insufficient for this House and we had to go further in showing that we never want to use this backstop and if it is used it must be a temporary arrangement.’
Tory MP for Sutton Coldfield Andrew Mitchell then interjected: ‘Do you not think that it is better to seek an extension to Article 50 rather than to leave with no deal?’ May rejected his proposal.
Ian Blackford, Westminister leader for the Scottish Nationalists, called for all parties to come together. He said to May: ‘Reach out and speak with the opposition parties, we all have a responsibility to protect our citizens, it is time for the Prime Minister to move beyond narrow party politics. It is time to come together in the interests of all our nations. ‘I ask the Prime Minister to bring forward the Meaningful Vote on her deal to before the Christmas recess,’ to which she said she would not.
Nigel Dodds from the DUP said: ‘I am sure that the Prime Minister will agree with me that EU Council agreements and declarations are of course, political statements, and they have talked about clarifications and assurances. ‘However, they have ruled out, renegotiating, contradicting, or reopening the legal text.
‘… So will the Prime Minister today tells us exactly what she is actually asking for to deliver on the key concerns about the legally binding and indefinite nature of the backstop with no right for this country to exit it on its own terms.’
May admitted that it was only political and legal assurances that she is seeking on the backstop.