LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May said Sunday that a delayed vote in Parliament on her Brexit deal will “definitely” go ahead later this month, as she promised to set out measures to win over skeptical lawmakers.
May told the BBC that in the coming days she will give more details about measures addressing Northern Ireland and concern over the Irish “backstop.” She also promised a greater role for Parliament in negotiations over future trade relations with the European Union as a sweetener, and added that “we are still working on” getting extra assurances from Brussels to secure domestic support for her deal.
May struck a withdrawal agreement with the EU in November, but that deal needs Parliament’s approval. In December, May decided to postpone a parliamentary vote intended to ratify the agreement at the last minute after it became clear that it would be overwhelmingly defeated in the House of Commons.
Lawmakers are resuming debate on the deal Wednesday, before a vote expected to be held around Jan 15.
If the deal is voted down, Britain risks crashing out of the EU on March 29 with no agreement in place, a messy outcome that could plunge the country into its worst recession for decades.
May’s Brexit deal is unpopular with British lawmakers across the spectrum, and the main sticking point is the insurance policy known as the backstop — a measure that would keep the UK tied to EU customs rules in order to guarantee there is no hard border between the Republic of Ireland, an EU member, and the UK’s Northern Ireland, which won’t belong to the bloc after Brexit.
EU officials have insisted that the withdrawal agreement can’t be renegotiated, although they also stressed that the backstop was meant only as a temporary measure of last resort.
As part of her efforts to win support for her deal, May on Sunday reiterated that the agreement she negotiated was the only one that respects the 2016 referendum result, protects jobs and provides certainty to people and businesses.
She warned in the Mail on Sunday newspaper that critics of her Brexit deal risk damaging Britain’s democracy and its economy by opposing her plan.