DECEMBER 10, 2018
Britain has been plunged into chaos after Theresa May PULLED a vote on her Brexit deal to save her skin.
The pound plummeted to its lowest level in more than a year as tomorrow night’s showdown in the House of Commons was scrapped.
Theresa May today admitted she had “deferred” the vote because of “widespread and deep concern” about the Northern Ireland backstop.
She told MPs: “If we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow the deal would be rejected by a significant margin.”
She will now race to EU partners for urgent talks ahead of a summit of 27 leaders this Thursday. And she gave no guarantee of the new date for a vote – suggesting only it would be before January 21.
Furious Jeremy Corbyn declared: “The government has lost control of events and is in complete disarray.
“This is a bad deal for Britain, a bad deal for our economy and a bad deal for our democracy. Our country deserves better than this.”
Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable announced his party would “fully support” a no-confidence vote in the government if Labour calls one.
Yvette Cooper, chairwoman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, said Britain looked “chaotic and ridiculous”.
Labour veteran MP Dennis Skinner declared: “She looks very weak and she is.
“Mrs. Thatcher had a word for it. What she’s done today – F-R-I-T. She’s frit!”
As talk mounted of fresh no confidence calls in the leader, Tory Brexiteer MP Jacob Rees-Mogg declared: “We cannot continue like this. The Prime Minister must either govern or quit.”
And Hilary Benn, chairman of the Commons Brexit Committee, warned she was “merely postponing the inevitable.”
The delay emerged 12 minutes after No10 insisted the vote was “going ahead as planned” – and despite Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay saying the vote was “100% happening on Tuesday”.
The Prime Minister – who had been braced for the worst defeat in Commons history – rang DUP leader Arlene Foster before updating MPs as she faced fresh threats to topple her.
Ms. Foster – whose party props up the government – tweeted: “My message was clear. The backstop must go. Too much time has been wasted. Need a better deal. Disappointed it has taken so long for Prime Minister to listen.”
Mrs May said she will seek “new ways” to give MPs a say over the controversial “backstop”, which extends EU customs rules over the UK if there’s no deal for the Irish border.
But DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds blasted the Prime Minister’s performance saying it “isn’t credible”.
The Prime Minister had been facing the worst defeat in Commons history tomorrow night which could have toppled her from office.
Now she faces having to try and wrestle more compromises from the EU – because her deal still has to be passed by MPs at some point.
But a European Commission spokeswoman declared today: “We will not renegotiate, our position has not changed, and as far as we are concerned the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union on 29 March 2019.”
Tory Brexiteer Steve Baker said: “This is essentially a defeat of the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal.
“The terms of the Withdrawal Agreement were so bad that they didn’t dare put it to Parliament for a vote. This isn’t the mark of a stable Government or a strong plan.
“The Prime Minister should now go back to Brussels and demand a better deal.”
Labour MP David Lammy, of the anti-Brexit Best for Britain campaign, added: “This is an unprecedented and historic humiliation for Theresa May.
“This is recognition of what has been clear for months: there is no majority for her miserable Brexit deal in Parliament.
“Our politics is now well and truly stuck. The way to unblock it is to go back to the public with a people’s vote, which will either offer a mandate for a specific form of Brexit, or to remain in the EU.”
The pound plunged 0.7% against the Euro after news of the delay emerged in an hour of chaos for the government.
Despite more than 100 Tory MPs warning they could vote against the Brexit deal, a No10 spokeswoman insisted by 11.19am: “The vote’s going ahead as planned.”
Asked if the PM would make a statement to the Commons, the spokeswoman said: “I’m not aware of any plans to do that.”
But reports the vote was being called off emerged at 11.31am from Bloomberg, followed by the BBC and others.
And it was revealed at 12.04pm that the Prime Minister would make a statement to MPs.
Mrs. May was holding an emergency conference call with Cabinet Ministers from 11.30am.
She also held calls with EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, EU Council President Donald Tusk, Irish PM Leo Varadkar, Dutch leader Mark Rutte and German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the weekend.
Cabinet minister Michael Gove today admitted she was trying to “improve” her deal.
“Of course we can improve this deal, and the Prime Minister is seeking to improve this deal,” the Environment Secretary told the BBC.
The Prime Minister – due to address Tory activists at a lunchtime meeting of the Conservative Friends of Israel – wanted MPs to give final approval to her 585-page agreement to leave the EU.
But more than 100 Tories threatened to vote it down – which would be one of the most damning defeats ever recorded.
They are furious at a “backstop” which could trap the UK under EU customs rules in a half-in, half-out Brexit.
If she lost by more than 166 votes it will be the worst government defeat in history, says academic Philip Cowley – outstripping a record set by Labour in 1924.
The vote was due to be held at 8.30pm tomorrow.
Its fresh timing is now unclear, but a vote of some kind must still be held to agree the deal.
Meanwhile Mrs May was dealt a fresh blow by the European Court of Justice – which ruled she is free to cancel Brexit if she wants to.
Remain-backing MPs seized on the ruling and said it should be used to stop Brexit and hold a second EU referendum.