Leader of 1922 committee tells Theresa May to delay Brexit vote

‘Go back to Brussels to avoid vote humiliation’: Leader of backbench Tories tells Theresa May not to risk crushing Commons defeat on her Brexit deal

  • Sir Graham Brady said the Prime Minister should go back to Brussels 
  • Wants to re-negotiate the backstop to make sure UK is not tied to EU rules 
  • Downing Street said: ‘The vote will take place on Tuesday as planned’
  • Meanwhile, Tory loyalists tabled amendment to limit backstop to one year

A leading Tory backbencher has called for Theresa May to delay Tuesday’s vote on her Brexit deal to avoid a humiliating defeat. 

Sir Graham Brady said the Prime Minister should go back to Brussels and re-negotiate the terms of the backstop arrangement.

He wants to make sure the UK is not bound to EU rules forever, a prospect that troubles Brexiteer rebels likely to vote against Mrs May’s deal in large numbers.

A leading Tory backbencher has called for Theresa May to delay Tuesday’s vote on the Brexit deal to avoid a humiliating defeat

Sir Graham, the chairman of the influential 1922 committee, said yesterday: ‘I can’t see why there should be an objection to providing either an end date – three years’ time, whatever it might be – when we would automatically leave that arrangement or some other mechanism just to make sure we could leave.

‘I don’t think there is any point in ploughing ahead and losing the vote heavily,’ Sir Graham told Sky News.

He added: ‘What I would like is to have the reassurance that’s necessary that will answer the concerns that colleagues have but if that reassurance isn’t available by Tuesday then I think it is perfectly sensible to delay for a few days.’  

Delaying the vote would be complicated because the pre-vote debate has already started. 

This means Mrs would need to win another vote on an amendment to delay it.

Downing Street has dismissed the idea. A Number 10 spokesman said: ‘The vote will take place on Tuesday as planned.’  

Hugo Swire (pictured), a former Northern Ireland minister, tabled an amendment on the backstop along with Bob Neill and Richard Graham

Meanwhile, Tory loyalists last night tabled a backbench amendment to the vote designed to effectively limit the UK’s stay in the backstop to just one year.

The proposal would give MPs a vote in 2020 over whether to enter the backstop or extend the Brexit transition period – an idea similar to the ‘parliamentary lock’ being discussed by Mrs May.

But it would also place a ‘duty’ on the Government to have a workable alternative in place within a year of the backstop being entered.

And it would require Mrs May to seek ‘further assurances from the EU that the backstop would only be a temporary arrangement’.

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The amendment was tabled by loyalist MPs Sir Hugo Swire and Richard Graham. But Nikki da Costa, former director of legislative affairs at No 10, suggested it was inspired by ministers, saying: ‘I know a government amendment when I see one.’

One government source last night suggested that ministers would back the amendment. Some senior Tories believe it is still possible for the PM to obtain a ‘clarification’ from Brussels about how long any backstop period could last.

The backstop is designed to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.

The development came as MPs and businesses were urged by the boss of one of Britain’s biggest pension and investment firms to put the national interest first and get behind the PM’s Brexit deal.

Theresa May said this morning that killing off her plan could result in no-deal, or no Brexit at all

Writing in the Mail, Legal & General chief executive Nigel Wilson said an agreement with the EU was ‘always going to be a compromise’ and argues that Mrs May’s opponents are being ‘self-indulgent’.

He also warned that re-running the referendum, trying another model of membership, or leaving the bloc with no deal will cause more uncertainty for business.

His comments came after a day of turmoil on global stock markets with traders rattled by fresh US-China trade tensions and predictions of another economic slowdown.

More than £56billion was wiped off the FTSE 100, the index of Britain’s biggest companies, which closed 217.79 points, or 3.2 per cent, lower at 6,704.05. 

Chancellor Philip Hammond told MPs during the latest stage of debate on Theresa May’s deal that he does not ‘believe we can afford the economic costs of a no deal Brexit’


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