Stop Brexit process set to be in place within weeks, Jeremy Hunt declares

The chances of stopping Brexit are ramping up and the process faces being in place within weeks, the Foreign Secretary declared today.

Jeremy Hunt made the dramatic claim as part of a desperate plea to persuade Tory Brexiteers to back Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

If MPs vote down the 585-page deal on Tuesday, as is widely expected, they will vote on no-deal Brexit followed by a delay to the March 29 leaving date.

Today, the Foreign Secretary said that risked a much softer ‘Norway-style’ Brexit – or Brexit being cancelled through a second referendum.

Speaking after Labour said it was still poised to back a ‘People’s Vote’, despite not pushing for one this week, Mr Hunt said "the wind is in the sails" of referendum backers and they were almost two-thirds of the way there.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: "We have an opportunity now to leave on March 29 or shortly thereafter.

"It’s very important we grasp that opportunity because there is wind in the sails of people trying to stop Brexit."

He said: "If you want to stop Brexit, you only need to do three things – kill this deal, get an extension and then have a second referendum.

"Within three weeks those people could have two of those three things.

“Quite possibly the third one could be on the way through the Labour Party.

“So we are in very perilous waters.”

He added: "There is a risk and a possibility that we end up losing Brexit if we get the votes wrong in the next couple of weeks.

"And I think that’s something that in their hearts most MPs know would be a very big mistake."

Asked to explain his hint that Brexit might not happen on March 29 no matter what, he explained that the UK might need a “technical extension” to get hundreds of secondary laws over the line.

But he warned of “Brexit paralysis” if there is a full-blown delay.

Foreign Secretary Mr Hunt suggested that with Jeremy Corbyn in talks with Tory backbenchers, the chances of a Norway-style Brexit are ramping up.

"We can’t wish away the parliamentary arithmetic,” he said, and "if it’s not this deal, it’s likely to be something less appealing, less representative of what people voted for.”

We could end up “in the customs union by the front door if we get this wrong”, he said.

Top Labour MPs today said the party will NOT force a Commons vote this week on holding a second Brexit referendum.

BREXIT COUNTDOWN CLOCK

Brexit chief Sir Keir Starmer dumped cold water on claims the party would row in behind an amendment calling for a ‘People’s Vote’ in just two days’ time.

His comments, just 19 days before Brexit, come despite Labour shifting its position two weeks ago to "put forward or support" a pro-People’s Vote amendment following months of pressure by members.

Focus was building around a plan by the MPs Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson thatit had been thought was to be put before MPs this Tuesday.

But speaking today, Sir Keir argued Tuesday – which is when MPs will vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal – was the wrong time to decide on a public vote.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell added a public vote was an "option" that’s "still there" in future, but confirmed: “Everything we do this week has got to prevent a no deal and a bad deal”.

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