THERE is a risk MPs will ‘steal Brexit from the British people’ if Theresa May’s proposed ‘backstop’ deal is rejected, senior cabinet minister Liam Fox warned yesterday. Fox said there was a ‘natural Remain majority’ in Parliament but any attempt to overturn the 2016 referendum vote would be a ‘democratic affront’.
The UK is due to leave the European Union on 29 March, 2019. May ministers say that if MPs reject her bad ‘backstop’ deal they increase the chances of the UK leaving without a deal, or not leaving the EU at all. Fox suggested that while a no-deal exit would be ‘disorderly’, the alternative – keeping the UK in jail in the EU against the will of the British people – would be even more damaging.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said the deal on the table was in the best interests of the country. ‘Everyone has to think at this momentous moment – do we want to ensure that Brexit gets over the line?
‘Do we want to deliver on the verdict of the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the European Union because if we don’t back the prime minister, we risk there being no Brexit and that I think would be a fatal blow to faith in democracy.’
The third House of Commons defeat for the May regime on Tuesday was over changes to the parliamentary process in the event that the House of Commons votes down her deal. Instead of being confined to merely ‘taking note’ of what the government tells them, MPs will be able in a ‘remain’ Parliament to wrest control of the Brexit process from ministers in a push for a ‘Plan B’ alternative.
This will seek to prevent any chance of Britain leaving the EU without a deal in place, and/or to call a second referendum. Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, who brought the motion, told Channel 4 News it would ‘allow the UK time to consider its options’, including re-starting negotiations with the EU or giving the public the final say.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said: ‘The Commons is now very likely to defeat the government again next week on the Brexit deal, at which point the country must be given a ‘People’s Vote’, and asked to choose between the deal or remaining in the EU.’
The leader of the SNP at Westminster, Ian Blackford, said the ‘cold, hard truth’ was that the deal represented ‘a moment of self-harm in our history’. ‘It is not too late to turn back,’ he said. ‘Fundamentally, there is no option that is going to be better for our economy, jobs, and for our communities than staying in the European Union.’ However, millions of people are in no mood to be trifled with and are demanding that the UK break with the EU at once, insisting that no deal is far better than a bad deal.