May accused of playing games as she moves to stop a Tory rebellion over no-deal Brexit

PUBLISHED: 12:51 26 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:52 26 February 2019

Prime Minister Theresa May updates MPs in the House of Commons. Photograph: PA Wire.

Prime Minister Theresa May updates MPs in the House of Commons. Photograph: PA Wire.

Theresa May has attempted to quash a Tory rebellion by promising to give MPs a vote on extending Article 50 and a no-deal Brexit if her plan is rejected next month.

In a statement to the House of Commons, May confirmed that she will put her Withdrawal Agreement - including whatever additional assurances she has secured from Brussels - to a “meaningful vote” by March 12.

If that fails, MPs will be offered two separate votes the following day - one on a no-deal Brexit, and the other on requesting an extension to the two-year Article 50 negotiation process to delay EU withdrawal beyond March 29.

The sequence of votes will be proposed in an amendable motion tabled by the prime minister for debate and vote in the Commons on Wednesday.

To uproar in the Commons, May told MPs: “They are commitments I am making as prime minister and I will stick by them, as I have previous commitments to make statements and table amendable motions by specific dates.”

Independent Group member Anna Soubry said: “This is a shameful moment, nothing has changed, apart from the fact that some of us who used to sit over there are now sitting over here.

“One of the reasons for that is because yet again we see in the prime minister a can kicking at the same time that fudge is being created and a failure to put the country and the nation’s interests first, instead the future of the Conservative Party is put first and foremost.”

Dominic Grieve MP, a leading Conservative supporter of People’s Vote, said the prime minister was still playing games.

“The prime minister has now accepted that, after two-and-a-half years of negotiations that have not produced a deal that can command a majority in parliament, she is likely to have request an extension of the Brexit deadline. But a temporary extension does not rule out a no deal Brexit, it merely moves the cliff-edge back a few weeks

“Another cycle of humiliating negotiations and still more deadlock cannot be the answer when there is no form of Brexit that meets the promises of 2016, is as good as the deal we’ve got inside the EU, or can provide clarity for the future.

“Instead, parliament needs the time and space to consider proposals now supported by MPs from all parties for a new public vote because it would be wrong to force Brexit on the British people without giving them the final say.

“Playing games over the length of such an extension to stop a People’s Vote or tie the hands of MPs will, rightly, be seen as further evidence of a rigid approach to Brexit that has resulted in this spiralling crisis. The prime minister should not seek to use the European Parliamentary elections as an excuse for not allowing a public vote. It is entirely democratic to have such a vote and it is becoming more and more important that one should take place.”

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