Brexit: Theresa May in final push to win support for deal


London: Theresa May is set to hold a series of private meetings with backbench MPs as she bids to win support for her Brexit deal before Tuesday’s vote.
The withdrawal agreement has been endorsed by EU leaders but now needs Parliament’s backing.
Newspaper reports over the weekend said the vote would be delayed – but Number 10 insists it will go ahead as planned.
The PM said a rejection of her deal could lead to a general election – or possibly “no Brexit” at all.
The government is widely expected to lose the vote, with Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the DUP, the SNP and dozens of Conservative MPs saying they cannot support the deal.
Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan appealed to his colleagues on Monday morning to back the deal, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme they had not “thought strategically enough about the consequences”.
He echoed May’s warning of a general election if the deal was voted down, or a possible leadership contest, and said it could “set in train a course of events which could lead to chaos in many, many areas”.
But former Cabinet minister and Leave campaigner Theresa Villiers told the programme that the UK could cope with a no-deal scenario if “preparation is stepped up” and the EU co-operated.
Downing Street believes most Conservative MPs could support May’s deal if it were not for the backstop – the insurance policy designed to prevent a hard border in Ireland.
On Sunday evening, May spoke on the phone to Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, whose support could be vital if she were to negotiate further with the EU.
She also spoke to the European Council President Donald Tusk, who tweeted it would be “an important week for the fate of Brexit”.
Boris Johnson said May could stay on if she lost Tuesday’s vote – but must renegotiate the deal with Brussels.
Johnson, who quit the cabinet over May’s Brexit strategy, told the BBC he did not want a “no-deal” Brexit or another referendum, but it was not right to say there were no alternatives.
He said the Northern Ireland “backstop” put the UK in a “diabolical negotiating position”.
MPs could give May “a powerful mandate to change that backstop” by voting it down on Tuesday, he said.


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