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Theresa May, U.K. prime minister, leaves number 10 Downing Street following a meeting with Estonia's Prime Minister Juri Ratas in London, U.K., on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Brexit campaigners in the U.K.'s governing Conservative Party would be "foolish" to try to overthrow May, Cabinet minister Liam Fox warned, as the prime minister battles critics on multiple fronts. Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

There Might Be No Brexit – Theresa May

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Monday, January 14th, 2019
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Approve my deal or risk no Brexit at all, British Prime Minister Theresa May will warn Monday as she makes a final effort to shore up support ahead of Tuesday’s crucial vote on her beleaguered withdrawal deal with the European Union.

In a speech to workers at a factory in Stoke-on-Trent, a part of the UK that voted heavily in favor of Brexit, May will argue that Parliament is more likely to prevent Britain leaving the EU than allowing it to leave without a deal. Failing to implement the result of the 2016 referendum, in which a narrow majority of Britons voted in favor of leaving the EU, would result in “catastrophic harm” to trust in politics, she will say. May’s speech comes after a weekend of febrile developments ahead of Tuesday’s vote.

Key developments:

• A group of backbench MPs put forward a plan to take control of the Brexit process if May’s deal fails badly on Tuesday.
• The opposition Labour party said it would trigger a vote of no-confidence in May’s government in an attempt to force a general election, if she loses her vote on Tuesday.
• European officials were reported to be preparing for Britain to request a delay to the Brexit process, fearing there is not enough time to get everything done by the March 29 deadline.
• May will make an emergency statement to the House of Commons on Monday.

Alternative plans

Under one plan being touted at Westminster, in the event May’s deal collapses, MPs could vote to give a parliamentary committee the responsibility for coming up with a Brexit plan that could command majority support.
Nick Boles, a Conservative MP who is behind the proposal, said it would give MPs the chance to do what the government has so far failed — come up with a plan that could pass the House of Commons. “If the House passed that compromise deal, then the government would be legally required to implement whatever it was that they had,” he told BBC Radio on Monday. Critics of the Boles plan say it amounts to a coup, since it strips the government of the power to control legislation in the House of Commons.
Boles rejected the claim. “Everything that we propose… will be subject to votes in the House of Commons and open to amendment by MPs. So talk of a coup is ludicrous. If the government can’t govern, Parliament must,” he wrote on Twitter.
The opposition Labour party plans to force a vote of no-confidence in May’s government if her deal is rejected by a wide margin on Tuesday. That could lead to the collapse of May’s government and a general election — although it would require the Democratic Unionist Party, the Northern Ireland party that props up May’s minority government, to withdraw its backing for May.
“We will table a motion of no confidence in the government at a time of our choosing, but it’s going to be soon, don’t worry about it,” Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told the BBC on Sunday.
In any event, with the clock ticking to the legally binding mechanism that catapults Britain out of the EU on March 29, with or without a deal, there is increasing speculation in Westminster that the whole process will have to be delayed.
The Guardian reported on Sunday that officials in Brussels are expected the UK to ask the EU to extend the Article 50 process, and preparations are being made for such a request.
The first step would be a “technical” extension until July, the Guardian reported. Any further extension would be more complicated because a new session of the European Parliament would be in place without British representation.
In her speech in Stoke-on-Trent, May will argue that, had the referendum result gone the other way, there would have been no question of Parliament forcing the UK to leave against its will. Therefore Parliament should not frustrate the Brexit process, she will argue.
“If a majority had backed remain, the UK would have continued as an EU member state,” May will say. “No doubt the disagreements would have continued too, but the vast majority of people would have had no truck with an argument that we should leave the EU in spite of a vote to remain or that we should return to the question in another referendum.”
Despite her forceful words, May is likely facing a defeat — her bill is unpopular with both pro and anti-Brexit MPs. She previously postponed the vote, to the outrage of many in Parliament, when it looked sure to be defeated.
Since then, Parliament has been eager to assert its constitutional dominance. Last week, MPs voted in favor of preventing the UK from exiting the EU without any deal. They also gave May just three days to come up with an alternative plan if she is defeated on Tuesday.

Ugly debate

Hardline supporters of leaving the EU have expressed anger at signs Brexit may be slipping away, or that a second referendum might be held.
At regular protests outside Parliament, where pro and anti-Brexit demonstrators have been a regular sight for months, far-right groups have targeted MPs and journalists — particularly those members of May’s Conservative Party who are skeptical of Brexit or support holding another referendum.
In a letter to London’s Metropolitan Police, MPs warned that “an ugly element of individuals with strong far right and extreme right connections … have increasingly engaged in intimidatory and potentially criminal acts” against politicians, journalists, activists and the public.
According to her prepared remarks, May will use her speech on Monday to warn that a defeat of her Brexit deal in Parliament could degrade the debate even further and lead to widespread disillusionment among voters.
“I ask MPs to consider the consequences of their actions on the faith of the British people in our democracy,” she will say.
“What if we found ourselves in a situation where Parliament tried to take the UK out of the EU in opposition to a remain vote?”
The Prime Minister will attempt to link any defeat of the bill to anti-Brexit MPs, saying “there are some in Westminster who would wish to delay or even stop Brexit and who will use every device available to them to do so.”
“People’s faith in the democratic process and their politicians would suffer catastrophic harm,” she will say. “We all have a duty to implement the result of the referendum.”

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