Date Set for Theresa May’s Brexit Showdown With Hostile Parliament
(Bloomberg) -- U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May will put her Brexit deal to Parliament for a decisive vote on Dec. 11, but after her plan was savaged from all sides, the signs are she’s on course to lose.
The vote will mark the moment when British politicians decide whether to accept the contentious divorce terms May has struck with the European Union -- or put the country on course to crash out of the bloc with no agreement in place.
May insisted on Monday that she’s “looking forward” to the House of Commons passing judgment in two weeks’ time. Her claim came after more than two hours of debate in Parliament on Monday dominated by criticism from all sides, with few voices raised in support.
“There is a choice which this House will have to make,” May told the Commons. “We can back this deal, deliver on the vote of the referendum and move on to building a brighter future of opportunity and prosperity for all our people. Or this House can choose to reject this deal and go back to square one,” she said.
“No one knows what would happen if this deal doesn’t pass. It would open the door to more division and more uncertainty, with all the risks that will entail.”
‘Never Get Through’
May got a taste of how difficult her task will be. A succession of Conservatives warned her they will not back her plan. Without an automatic majority in Parliament, May needs every vote she can get.
“No sooner is the ink dry than the Spanish are after Gibraltar and the French are after our fish,” Conservative Mark Francois said as he called May’s deal a “surrender.” The prime minister “knows the mathematics” in Parliament, he said. “The deal will never get through.”
May has launched a national campaign and is embarking on a U.K.-wide tour to win support for the agreement. The deal, which took 17 months of negotiations to finalize, offers to keep Britain closely tied to EU rules to allow for smooth trade with the bloc after Brexit.
As part of the divorce, the U.K. will pay a bill of as much as 39 billion pounds ($50 billion), but many pro-Brexit Tories believe the payment is not justified.
“What are we buying with 39 billion pounds of taxpayers’ money?” Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the European Research Group of Conservatives, said. He claimed the U.K. would not need to pay any money at all if it left without a deal. May said she disagreed and that the U.K. will pay what it owes.
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