Theresa May has outlined a new Brexit deal, which includes votes on the UK’s customs relationship with the EU and on whether or not to have a second referendum on the deal.
She said: “I recognise the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue.
“The government will therefore include in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at introduction a requirement to vote on whether to hold a second referendum, and this must take place before the Withdrawal Agreement can be ratified.”
The prime minister introduced several other changes, saying it was the last chance to avoid “a nightmare future of permanently polarised politics”.
Her new deal does not budge on the end of free movement, but would include a new workers’ rights bill, aimed at giving UK workers rights equal to, or better than, those guaranteed by European Union membership.
It also proposes a new environmental office.
May said her new Brexit deal had “listened to Unionist concerns” about the backstop, which the government would be mandated to find alternative arrangements to by December 2020.
But should the backstop come into force, said May, the government will commit to staying aligned with Northern Ireland, prohibiting any future government from splitting it off from the UK’s customs territory.
May said the government will commit in law to let parliament decide on the customs issue.
She said: “If MPs vote against the second reading of this Bill they are voting to stop Brexit.
“If they do so the consequences could hardly be greater – reject this deal and leaving the EU with a negotiated deal any time soon will be dead in the water and what would we do then?
“… If not no-deal then it would have to be a general election or a second referendum that could lead to revocation and no Brexit at all.”