PARLIAMENT erupted yesterday on the burning issue of Brexit, on the first day back after the Xmas break. Moving an Urgent Question Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said: ‘I would ask the Prime Minister if she would make a statement on progress made in achieving legal changes to the EU withdrawal agreement and the timetable in this House for a meaningful vote.’
However PM May was not there to answer, instead Stephen Barclay, Tory minister for exiting the EU said to jeers: ‘When the debate begins on Wednesday the government will be clear with the House of what has been achieved since last year.’
Corbyn asked again: ‘Now the time has come for the Prime Minister to give exactly what legal assurances have been given by EU leaders. ‘While I am delighted to see the Brexit secretary here, it is the Prime Minister who should be here to answer these question.
‘… What guarantees do we have from the secretary of state that faced with yet another humiliating defeat, the Prime Minister won’t just run away? ‘Can the secretary of state do what the Prime Minister should be doing today and confirm the timetable for the meaningful vote and provide a cast iron promise this will not be reneged on yet again.
‘The Prime Minister is trying to run down the clock in an attempt to blackmail this House in supporting a botched deal.’ Barclay answered: ‘The reality is that he opposes the preparation for no deal, which any responsible government needs to make, while at the same time saying that he will vote against the deal. It is that internal machination within the Labour Party which he needs address.
‘It is time that the leader of the opposition comes clear, does the leader of the opposition maintain the position in their own manifesto that they are going to respect the referendum result? or does he agree with his shadow secretary for a second referendum?’
The SNP called for Corbyn to join them in extending Article 50, delaying the Brexit process indefinitely and demanding a second referendum in order to stop Brexit.
Tories in favour of leaving the EU also made it clear that they will not vote for May’s EU compromise deal.
John Redwood, Tory MP for Wokingham said: ‘Does the government understand that opposition to the withdrawal agreement goes way beyond the unacceptable Irish backstop and includes paying huge sums of money with nothing nailed down over the future partnership and worse still plunging us into 21-45 months of endless rows and disagreements with all the uncertainty that would bring.’
Meanwhile in the latest attempt by pro-EU MPs to scupper Brexit, MPs today are moving amendments in Parliament which if passed would effectively shut down government, in a move echoing the US shutdown.
In the US, their government has been shutdown for the last 18 days. Here, MPs from various parties plan to move two amendments to the Finance Bill, one of which would prevent the Treasury from going ahead with no-deal Brexit plans without the consent of the Commons.
This would block government from collecting taxes and performing other financial activities, therefore paralysing it. In further divisions, more than 200 MPs, including at least 20 Tory MPs, signed a letter to Theresa May, urging her to rule out a no-deal Brexit.
This is while Tory ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson said leaving the EU with no deal is ‘closest to what people actually voted for’ in the 2016 EU referendum.
The DUP, which May’s Tory Party relies on for a majority in Parliament, has said it will not back her deal in the vote expected to take place on the 14th or 15th of January.
- During Andrew Marr’s interview with Theresa May on Sunday, he posed the issue point blank, whether she would back the people over Parliament. He said: ‘We know your views on a second referendum, you are not a personal enthusiast for that, but also you are a parliamentarian and your authority comes from parliament. If the House of Commons votes for a second referendum, would you implement that as Prime Minister?’
She replied: ‘In my view there should not be a second referendum.’ Marr pushed again: ‘But if Parliament says that is what should happen?’ May said: ‘What we are seeing in Parliament is some people advocating a second referendum because they want to stop Brexit. Now, we also have some people on the opposition, the chairman of the Labour Party Ian Lavery has said that this would be disrespectful to those people who went out and voted leave, it would divide our country.’
Marr then tried again: ‘If Parliament did it, would you actual implement it? is my question. You are Prime Minister, Parliament has said “we want a second referendum”, you are against it, what do you do?’
Once again May tried to evade the pivotal question, responding: ‘What I would do in the first place, is to try and ensure and dissuade people that a second referendum is not the way forward for this country. It is not the way forward because it is disrespecting the vote of the people.’
Marr interjected: ‘What about respecting the House of Commons? If they say this is what they want surely as Prime Minister you have to do it?’ May then conceded: ‘The House of Commons obviously will come to its view on these things.’