‘Back me and we’ll be out by May’: Prime Minister urges MPs to vote for her deal or risk being stuck forever in the EU’s ‘Hotel California’
- If Theresa May’s agreement is rejected Commons could delay Brexit indefinitely
- ‘There is no limit to the number of extensions of Article 50 the UK can ask for’
- If the vote is rejected Mrs May will ask Brussels for an extension of two years
The Prime Minister has been advised that, if her agreement is rejected again this week then the Commons would have the power to delay Brexit indefinitely
Theresa May has warned Tory MPs that if her Brexit deal fails to pass the Commons this week the UK will be stuck in the Brussels version of a ‘Hotel California’ – unable ever to leave the EU.
The Prime Minister has been advised that, if her troubled agreement is rejected again this week – forcing her to apply to the EU for a long extension to Article 50 – then the Commons would have the power to delay Brexit indefinitely.
The officials warned Mrs May that, because a delay which runs beyond June would oblige the UK to participate in this year’s European parliamentary elections, ‘there is effectively no limit to the number of extensions of Article 50 the UK can ask for or be required to ask for by Parliament’.
Mrs May said last night: ‘The idea of the British people going to the polls to elect MEPs three years after voting to leave the EU hardly bears thinking about. There could be no more potent symbol of Parliament’s collective political failure’.
The Government has been locked in critical negotiations with the DUP this weekend to persuade them to sign up to Mrs May’s deal. Their discussions have focused on Attorney General Geoffrey Cox’s ‘clarification’ of his legal advice on the backstop.
Downing Street hopes that, if the DUP backs the deal, most rebel Tory MPs would then also fall into line.
With another tumultuous week in prospect at Westminster, The Mail on Sunday today reveals that:
- No 10 believes the delay to Brexit can be limited to under two months if MPs back the deal.
- Leave-supporting MPs, led by former Brexit Secretary David Davis, have signed a public letter urging Tory MPs to vote for the deal.
- A ‘suicide squad’ of hardline Brexiteers is plotting to ‘blow up’ Mrs May’s Government if she tries to impose a long delay to Brexit.
- Moves to deselect pro-Remain Tory MPs have reportedly started in more than 50 local associations after last week’s Commons voting drama.
- Allies of Boris Johnson have claimed that Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Health Secretary Matt Hancock are trying to ‘stitch up’ a post-May leadership contest by keeping Brexiteers off the ballot paper.
- Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss has added to the sense of civil war in the party by condemning ‘virtue-signalling vultures’ in the Cabinet, who she accused of pandering to ‘Left-wing whingers’.
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The Government’s discussions with the DUP have focused on Attorney General Geoffrey Cox’s ‘clarification’ of his legal advice on the backstop
Downing Street is this weekend targeting the 78 Tory MPs it needs to persuade to change their minds by using ‘WhipsApp’ – a blizzard of promises and threats on social messaging apps.
If the party whips do not think Mrs May has the numbers by tomorrow evening, her deal will not be put to a vote.
If that happens – or it is put to a vote and she loses – the Prime Minister will fly to Brussels on Thursday to ask for an extension of up to two years: the EU is expected to attach stringent conditions, such as the UK’s continued membership of a Customs Union, as the price for agreeing the extension. That would then have to be passed by both the Commons and the Lords before March 29 to avoid a No Deal Brexit.
A senior Government source told The Mail on Sunday that the Tory rebels should appreciate the constitutional consequences of a long extension: ‘At the very least, the UK would be expected to take part in the European Parliament elections, at a cost of more than £100 million.
Allies of Boris Johnson have claimed that Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt (left) and Health Secretary Matt Hancock (right) are trying to ‘stitch up’ a post-May leadership contest by keeping Brexiteers off the ballot paper
A source said: ‘It truly is the Hotel California Brexit, as No 10 has been making clear to the rebels’. In Hotel California, The Eagles famously sang: ‘You can check out any time you like but you can never leave
Once the UK has taken part in the EU elections there is effectively no limit to the number of extensions of Article 50 the UK can ask for or be required to ask for by Parliament. Multiple extensions are permissible up to the date of the next European elections’.
The source added: ‘It truly is the Hotel California Brexit, as No 10 has been making clear to the rebels’. In Hotel California, The Eagles famously sang: ‘You can check out any time you like but you can never leave.’
If, however, Mrs May puts her deal to a vote and wins, she will ask for an extension to Article 50 up to June 30 to prepare the legislation for Brexit.
But No 10 claims that the necessary legislation could be passed by April 25, preparing the way for a new Brexit date in May.
Leave-supporting MPs, led by former Brexit Secretary David Davis, have signed a public letter urging Tory MPs to vote for the deal
Mrs May said last night: ‘If Parliament can agree the deal before the European Council on March 21, we will seek a short technical extension to pass the necessary legislation. That is not an ideal outcome – we could and should have been leaving the EU on March 29. But it is something the British people would accept if it led swiftly to delivering Brexit.
‘The alternative if Parliament cannot agree the deal is much worse. EU leaders would require a clear purpose for any extension that was not merely technical.
‘If the proposal were to go back to square one and negotiate a new deal, that would mean a much longer extension – almost certainly requiring the UK to participate in the European Parliament elections in May.’
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