Ahead of the next vote (on 29 January), British Prime Minister Theresa May is looking for modifications to the Irish backstop in order to gain enough support to get her Brexit deal through Parliament. But few Members of Parliament (MPs) were impressed by May’s approach, saying that she was in denial about the scale of her defeat in the House of Commons last week.
May told MPs in Parliament that she will continue to discuss the backstop with her coalition partners in the Democratic Unionist Party, even though the European Union (EU) has already said it will not discuss any changes to the deal that it agreed to with Britain.
After days of cross-party talks, MPs have said that the Prime Minister has returned to Parliament with no change to her original plan. The cross-party talks excluded discussions with the main opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party, who refused to enter into discussions unless the “no deal” option is taken off the table.
At least six amendments have already been tabled. One would extend Article 50, moved by a number of MPs from different parties; another, moved by the Labour Party, would rule out a “no deal Brexit”. In an attempt to drive through her deal, May is refusing to rule out withdrawing from the European Union with no deal, insisting that the best way to ensure that is to vote for her version of Brexit.
However, Amber Rudd, the former Conservative Home Secretary and current Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, told the BBC today that up to 40 members of the cabinet could resign if they are not allowed a free vote on the issue on the amendment from the Labour Party.
May’s plan for next week’s vote appears to focus on making changes to the Irish Backstop in the hope of gaining support of Brexiters in her own party and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party. However, Michel Barnier, the EU’s negotiator, has reportedly told May that changes to the agreement reached between the EU and the British Government were not possible. He suggested that May should focus on the future relationship between the trading bloc and Britain instead.