May Says No-Deal Won't Occur Without Commons Vote: Brexit Update

Robert Hutton and Jessica Shankleman
May Says No-Deal Won't Occur Without Commons Vote: Brexit Update

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Theresa May said she doesn’t yet have enough support to put her Brexit deal to a vote in Parliament but will continue to try to convince MPs to back it. As lawmakers try to take control of the process, May is wielding the threat of a long extension if her deal isn’t passed.

Key Developments:

Premier says no-deal split will only happen with Parliament’s consentHouse of Commons votes tonight on next steps for Brexit -- including an attempt for Parliament to seize control of proceedingsEU steps up no-deal planning, including fact-sheets for citizensDUP official predicts May has no chance of getting deal approved

Government Promises Votes on Brexit Options (6.15 p.m.)

David Lidington, May’s effective deputy, tried to win MPs over by promising that the government will set aside a day this week for votes on Brexit options -- if Parliament rejects tonight the so-called Letwin-Grieve amendment (see 5:50 p.m.) which seeks to give Parliament control of the process.

But under repeated questioning, he was unable to say on which day it would happen or the format the votes would follow. When asked by Oliver Letwin himself if it would match the strategy laid out in his amendment, Lidington said he couldn’t commit to the details.

Lidington did say, though, that it would be up to MPs to choose what options they vote on, and that the government would offer its views on the options. Politicians sounded unconvinced, but Lidington argued that it would be better if the government kept control of parliamentary business.

Speaker Selects Key Amendment for Vote (5:50 p.m.)

Speaker John Bercow confirmed that an amendment that seeks to give Parliament control over the next steps in Brexit will go to a vote at about 10 p.m. on Monday.

It’s known as Letwin-Grieve and allows for non-binding votes on Wednesday on possible alternatives to May’s deal, such as maintaining closer ties or holding another referendum.

He’s also selected two others: The first, from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, calls on the government to allow votes on the next steps, without setting out a process. The other, from Labour’s Margaret Beckett, would require the government to call a vote in Parliament if the country came within seven days of a no-deal Brexit.

May Rejects Second Referendum Plan (4:45 p.m.)

Theresa May rejected a plan, backed by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, for there to be a public vote on her deal once it is passed by Parliament. She was responding after MPs repeatedly referred to the march by more than a million people through central London on Saturday demanding a second referendum.

“It’s in the best interests of this house to agree to deliver Brexit and do it in a smooth and orderly way but not to go down the route of either a second referendum or an election,” May said.

DUP’s Dodds Lays The Blame at May’s Door (4:05 p.m.)

Nigel Dodds, whose Democratic Unionist Party props up Theresa May’s government, lambasted the prime minister for a “fundamental lack of preparation” and talked up the benefits of a no-deal exit.

While May shook her head in disagreement, Dodds -- whose party has 10 votes that would be vital to getting May’s deal through Parliament -- said the leaders of Ireland and Germany both agreed that a no-deal scenario wouldn’t result in checks at the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

May: No-Deal Won’t Happen Without MPs’ Consent (3:50 p.m)

Theresa May seems to have hardened her position on a no-deal Brexit. “Unless this House agrees to it, no deal will not happen,’’ she told Parliament.

Though later, in the context of discussing votes on different Brexit options later in the week, May added that she couldn’t “commit the government to delivering the outcome of any votes held by this house.’’

May Says Not Enough MPs Back Her Deal (3:45 p.m.)

In a statement to Parliament, May said there’s not yet enough support in the House of Commons for it to be worthwhile putting her deal to another vote by MPs.

She’s lost two big votes on her deal and has been aiming for a third vote on Tuesday, but her aides have said she’ll only push the issue if she thinks she can win.

“It is with great regret that I have had 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,” May said on Monday. She promised to continue to talk to MPs “to build support so that we can bring the vote forward this week.”

Cancel Brexit Petition Passes 5.5 Million Signatures (3:10 p.m.)

The record-breaking petition to cancel Brexit surpassed 5.5 million signatures on Monday after beating the 4.1 million signatories logged by another Brexit petition in 2016. That time, a petition calling for a second referendum was set up by a Brexit campaigner before the referendum result was known, on the assumption Remain would win.

The most recent petition calls for the government to revoke the letter sent under Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty – notifying the EU of Britain’s intention to pull out. The record interest crashed the government’s petitions website on several occasions.

Underlying data shows support at its greatest in parts of the country that voted Remain, including London, Cambridge and Edinburgh. It also shows signatories from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. Parliament’s petitions Committee said 96 percent of signatories are in the U.K., and that British citizens living overseas are eligible to sign.

Corbyn, May Had ‘Frank’ Exchange (2:50 p.m.)

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn met with Theresa May for over an hour on Monday, holding a "frank and comprehensive exchange of views," according to a statement from the main opposition party.

Corbyn told the premier he sees no basis for her to bring her Brexit deal back for a third vote in the house of Commons, which has twice resoundingly defeated it. And he rejected her suggestion that the Withdrawal Agreement, which sets the terms of departure, could be separated from the political declaration of the goals for a future relationship with the EU.

May Is Said to Favor Tuesday for Deal Vote (2:15 p.m.)

Theresa May told Cabinet ministers she’s inclined to put her Brexit deal to a vote in Parliament for the third time on Tuesday, according to people familiar with the matter. No final decision has been taken, and the prime minister is planning further conversations with Conservatives before deciding whether to hold vote, the people said.

Cabinet ministers also expect Tory Oliver Letwin’s amendment giving the House of Commons control over next steps in Brexit process to pass a vote in Parliament on Monday. Ministers did not discuss the schedule for May’s resignation as prime minister, according to the people.

DUP Sees No Chance of Deal Being Approved (12:10 p.m.)

Theresa May has no chance of getting her Brexit deal through Parliament as things stand, according to a Democratic Unionist Party official. Nothing the prime minister has offered so far would dampen the DUP’s objections, the person said, noting that there was no further effort by the government over the weekend to persuade the party to back it.

Asked how events could play out, the official said there’s a chance of a no-deal Brexit, and that given the multiple factions in Parliament, it was unlikely politicians would agree on a single way forward. The person predicted even more chaos if Parliament takes over the process.

EU Says Members Ready for No-Deal (12 p.m.)

The European Union shifted its tone on a potential no-deal Brexit, reassuring businesses and citizens across the bloc that it is now ready for the consequences of the U.K. leaving without an agreement.

Following Thursday’s bruising summit for Theresa May, when EU leaders delayed Brexit to give her until April 12 to try to get the deal passed, the European Commission on Monday put out a statement saying that a no-deal departure is “increasingly likely.”

While it’s still the least-preferred option, the Commission said governments were now prepared -- including through the recruitment of hundreds of customs specialists -- and that if it’s to happen, it should happen quickly. An EU official reiterated that it wouldn’t enter into mini-deals to make a no-deal more palatable, and its measures were unilateral and aimed at self-protection.

EU in Talks With Ireland on Avoiding Hard Border (11 a.m.)

The U.K. and Ireland will have to take unilateral steps to avoid a hard border in the event of a no-deal Brexit, an EU official said, adding that the European Commission is in intensive talks with Irish authorities on the issue. The bloc doesn’t want to see visible controls or infrastructure at the border, the official said, but wasn’t able to explicitly rule it out.

The EU is stepping up its no-deal planning, including publishing fact-sheets for citizens.

Fox Says He’d Support No-Deal If Necessary (8:35 a.m.)

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said he’d leave the European Union without a deal if that’s necessary to avoid canceling Brexit. He reiterated on BBC Radio the remaining Brexit options are to leave with a deal -- and May’s is the only one on the table -- to leave without one, or to stay in the bloc.

Pushing for a longer delay and holding U.K. elections for the European Parliament would “unleash a torrent of pent-up frustration from voters,” Fox warned, adding that he hasn’t detected any change of sentiment in the country to reverse the original 2016 decision to leave the EU. He also said he’s not sure Parliament’s plan to hold votes on different Brexit options will work.

“One wonders, given the constraints, whether there is anything that Parliament would agree to,” he said, pointing out that the Conservative manifesto for the 2017 general election had ruled out membership of both the EU’s Single Market and its Customs Union.

MPs Have Put Forward 7 Amendments (Earlier)

The Parliamentary order paper shows lawmakers have proposed seven amendments to May’s Brexit motion on Monday. It’s up to Speaker of the House John Bercow to decide which ones should be debated; that’s usually a factor of the extent and breadth of support.

The most attention is on one put forward by the backbench Tories Oliver Letwin and Dominic Grieve that attempts to give Parliament control of proceedings for a single day on Wednesday, so politicians can hold a series of so-called indicative votes on various options to find out which can command a majority. It has more than 120 supporters.

Another reaffirms Parliament’s commitment to Brexit, and has more than 80 supporters. There are others calling for the government to provide time for indicative votes rather than ceding control of that process to Parliament, requesting a second referendum on Brexit, and suggesting lengthier delays to Brexit than the one currently on offer.

Evans: May Should Go Whatever Happens (Earlier)

Prime Minister Theresa should quit her post whatever happens, rank-and-file Brexiteer Nigel Evans told BBC Radio on Monday.

The ideal scenario is May “gets her deal over the line first, and then announces that she’s resigning so that there can be an orderly replacement of the prime minister,” he said. If she can’t, “I’m afraid she then would have to go.”

His comments mirror remarks made to Bloomberg Friday by Conservative Nicky Morgan, who supported remain in the referendum. There’s a wide view in the Tory Party that whatever happens, May shouldn’t be around to steer the next phase of negotiations on Britain’s future relationship with the EU, she said.

Read More:

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--With assistance from David Goodman, Ian Wishart, Kitty Donaldson, Alex Morales and Tim Ross.

To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net;Jessica Shankleman in London at jshankleman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Emma Ross-Thomas at erossthomas@bloomberg.net, Stuart Biggs

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