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MPs react as Theresa May postpones her third meaningful vote

Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement on Brexit to the House of Commons. Photograph: House of Commons/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Theresa May told the House of Commons that there was still not sufficient support among MPs to pass a third meaningful vote one her Brexit deal.

The European Council has set a deadline of Friday for May to secure parliamentary approval for her Withdrawal Agreement if the UK is to leave the EU with a deal on May 22.

If she cannot get it through the Commons, then the UK has until April 12 to propose a different approach or crash out of the EU without a deal.

But today she told the Commons she still cannot command the support of the House of Commons.

‘It is with great regret that I have to conclude that as things stand there is still not sufficient support in the house to bring back the deal for a third meaningful vote,’ she said.

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn responds to the PM. Photograph: House of Commons/PA Wire. – Credit: PA

‘I continue to have discussions with colleagues across the House to build support so that we can bring the vote forward this week and guarantee Brexit.’

The prime minister said the ‘default outcome’ remained leaving without a deal.

‘The alternative is to pursue a different form of Brexit or a second referendum,’ she said.

‘But the bottom line remains: if the House does not approve the Withdrawal Agreement this week and is not prepared to countenance leaving without a deal, we would have to seek a longer extension.’

That would mean holding European elections and would mean ‘we will not have been able to guarantee Brexit’.

She added: ‘No Brexit must not happen. And a slow Brexit, which extends Article 50 beyond May 22, forces the British people to take part in European elections and gives up control of any of our borders, laws, money or trade is not a Brexit that will bring the British people together.’

She said her deal was a compromise which respected both sides of the argument and ‘if this house can back it we can be out of the European Union in less than two months’.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: ‘The government’s approach to Brexit has now become a national embarrassment.

‘After two years of failure, broken promise after broken promise, the prime minister finally accepted the inevitable last week and voted to extend Article 50 and went to Brussels to negotiate.

‘Last week’s summit represented another negotiating failure for the prime minister – her proposals were rejected and new terms were imposed on her.’

Bridget Phillipson MP, a leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said that the prime minister is ‘still refusing to compromise with the reality that there is no majority in the House of Commons for forcing her broken Brexit on the people – not just this week – but at any time.’

Best for Britain supporter David Lammy MP added: ‘The prime minister’s deal leaves the UK poorer, less secure and less sovereign than remaining in the EU. It didn’t have support when it was roundly rejected in January and earlier this month, and it remains unacceptable to Parliament and the country now.

‘Trying to bash MPs over the head with the same Brexit deal is no way to govern.

‘We cannot go on like this. Parliament does not want Theresa May’s deal and voted down a no deal outcome. To unblock the impasse, we must now seek a public vote so the British people can have the final say.’

DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds criticised the ‘fundamental lack of preparation’, adding the ‘government’s entirely responsible for that’.

He said: ‘The prime minister has known for some considerable time, and so has the House, that 29th March was the target date, so why hasn’t appropriate preparations been made? Why do we need another two weeks? What’s going to happen in another two weeks that couldn’t have happened up till now? This is a fundamental lack of preparation and the Government’s entirely responsible for that, if that’s the case.

‘Because this is a new argument, I have to say Mr Speaker, this is an entirely new argument that we’re hearing for the first time as to why we need extension.’

‘Instead, she is once again driving us to a new cliff edge on April 12 with her eyes wide in the hope she can bribe, blackmail or browbeat MPs into supporting a deal that neither they nor the country want.

‘A series of indicative votes on alternative forms of Brexit may begin to give us some clarity but almost three years of failure cannot be fixed in a single day of debate and it is already crystal clear that any deal is bound to break many of the promises made in 2016, mean real costs to our country and guarantee only endless negotiations for years to come.

‘What we now need to do is to postpone the Brexit deadline for long enough for the Commons to decide what Brexit means, if necessary fight European elections and then allow the public to have the final say on a process that has so far only produced not only a national humiliation but also now a growing sense of national emergency.’

Labour’s Steve Reed tweeted: ‘Humiliation for May as she admits there’s no majority for her useless Brexit deal. Her blinkered arrogance is responsible for the whole mess by refusing to engage across the House 2 years ago when she still had time.’

The Independent Group’s Sarah Wollaston, who defected from the Tories last month, tweeted: ‘Dismal statement from the PM. Instead of listening to the 14 men invited to Chequers & 10 members of DUP, better to listen to the million who dropped by her front door to ask her to #PutItToThePeople.’

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