It's my deal, no deal or no Brexit: Theresa May

Lamar Ellis
December 7, 2018

Mrs May said that any deal with the European Union, such as a Canada-style free trade agreement favoured by some Brexiteers, would also require a backstop arrangement.

Sky News understands Mrs May would struggle to delay the vote because the debate leading up to it has already started - meaning she would need to win another vote adding an amendment to push it back.

Mrs May told BBC Radio 4's Today programme she had not given up on winning the vote on her Brexit deal - negotiated over the past 18 months or so - despite dozens of her own MPs and all opposition parties being against it.

The Times newspaper reported that senior ministers were urging May to delay it for fear of a rout.

Mrs May's comments came as the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) insisted it will withdraw support for her Government if the Prime Minister presses ahead with the Brexit deal with the EU.

"I am talking to colleagues about how we can look at parliament having a role in going into that and, if you like, coming out of that", she said.

But the source said the Prime Minisiter has fiercely opposed any such vote.

The advice, from Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, the country's top law officer, examines the legal effect of the proposed backstop arrangement, or Northern Ireland protocol, which is a fallback measure created to maintain an invisible border in Ireland.

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'The most important thing is to have clarity about how we might remove ourselves from a backstop, ' Sir Graham told the BBC's Newsnight. People have a concern at the backstop that we could be in it indefinitely.

Led by Hugo Swire, the alternative plan would give MPs the chance to vote to extend the transition period at the end of 2022 - rather than falling into the backstop.

May has repeatedly said if lawmakers reject her deal with Brussels, which would see Britain exit the European Union on March 29 with continued close ties, the only alternatives are leaving without a deal or reversing Brexit.

But EU negotiator Michel Barnier said on Thursday the deal was the best Britain will get, while British finance minister Philip Hammond said it was "simply a delusion" to think the agreement could be renegotiated if parliament rejects it.

Theresa May has rejected a plea from some in her cabinet to postpone the vote on the withdrawal bill but has offered concessions to parliament on the contentious issue of the backstop arrangement for avoiding an Irish border.

Wednesday is the second of five days of debates on the deal before the December 11 vote, and follows a first day which saw a series of dramatic defeats for the Prime Minister's struggling administration. Within moments, Sir Keir Starmer, shadow Brexit secretary, took to Twitter, arguing the advice revealed "central weaknesses" in the United Kingdom government's Brexit deal.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said that the 33-paragraph document revealed "the central weaknesses in the Government's deal".

"Despite statements in the Protocol that it is not meant to be permanent and the clear intention of the parties that it should be replaced by alternative, permanent arrangements, in worldwide law the Protocol would endure indefinitely until a superseding agreement took its place", the advice said.

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