British MPs will officially have their say on Theresa May’s controversial Brexit blueprint in the week beginning January 14, the Prime Minister has confirmed.
Debate on the deal – suspended last week following three full days in parliament – will resume on January 7, Ms May told the House of Commons on Tuesday (Australia time).
Ms May acknowledged the concerns of “many” MPs about the need for a decision soon, and reassured the House that she hoped to secure political and legal assurances from the EU over the Northern Ireland backstop in the coming weeks.
Ms May said she will proceed with a no-Brexit divorce from Europe if her deal was voted down, adding that a legal process will be set out ahead of the vote.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Ms May’s decision to delay the vote until next year was “unacceptable in any way whatsoever”.
“It’s very clear that it’s bad, unacceptable that we should be waiting almost a month before we have a meaningful vote on the crucial issue facing the future of this country,” he said after Ms May addressed the House.
Mr Corbyn wants a vote to be held this week, saying he will table a motion which says the following: “That this House has no confidence in the prime minister due to her failure to allow the House of Commons to have a meaningful vote straight away on the withdrawal agreement and framework for future relationships between the UK and European Union”.
Many MPs in Ms May’s Conservative Party and opposition parties were also angered by her last-minute postponement of the vote, which will now occur some 10 weeks before Britain is due to leave the EU.
Some excellent new images from @Jess__Taylor__ of the PM's European Council statement in the @HouseofCommons today. @ UKParliament/Jessica Taylor. Contact us for full set. ⬇️👏 pic.twitter.com/8SCYMxREIR
— Commons Press Office (@HoCPress) December 17, 2018
Ms May said if MPs do not approve her Brexit deal, the government will issue a statement about the next steps.
Ms May admitted last week that she would face a crushing defeat if she allowed the vote to proceed.
Ms May is pressing on with her deal to leave the European Union, her spokesman said on Monday, despite hardening opposition to it.
She has rejected calls for a second referendum or to test support for different Brexit options in parliament.
After a tumultuous week in which she survived a confidence vote and sought last-minute changes to a Brexit agreement reached with Brussels last month, Ms May faces deadlock over her deal in the British parliament.
With the EU offering little in the way of concessions to win over MPs, an increasing number of politicians are calling for a second referendum – something some of her ministers say could be avoided if the government tested Brexit scenarios in parliamentary votes.
Parliament is deeply divided, with factions pressing for different options for future ties, exiting without a deal, or remaining in the EU.
Ms May and her ministers have repeatedly ruled out a replay of the referendum, saying it would deepen rifts and betray voters who backed Brexit by 52 per cent to 48 per cent in 2016.
That increases the risk of Britain leaving without a deal on March 29, a scenario some businesses fear would be catastrophic for the world’s fifth largest economy.
Ms May will use a statement in parliament on Monday to reject the idea of a second referendum and to again set out that her agreement to keep close economic ties with the EU after Brexit is the only one on offer.