Labour Won't Force U.K. Second Referendum Vote: Brexit Update

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The U.K. Parliament is headed for a key vote Tuesday on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal, with expectations the proposal -- similar to the measure overwhelmingly defeated in January -- will lose again.

Key Developments:

  • Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt warns of devastating effects for Conservatives if the prime minister’s deal loses on Tuesday
  • U.K. Cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom rejected the European Union’s latest plan to break the Brexit deadlock, but said Parliament will be given more chances to vote on the deal if the bloc improves its “disappointing” offer before it’s too late
  • US ambassador to Britain, Woody Johnson, writing in the Mail on Sunday, accuses the EU of trying to wreck U.K.-U.S. relations with warnings about food standards
  • Attorney General Geoffrey Cox speaks to the Mail on Sunday about the backstop. “If we did secure an arbitration mechanism, it could be triggered on the very first day we entered the backstop. That’s because the transition period would have already given two years for completion of negotiations,” he said
  • The Sunday Times predicts a defeat of 150 votes on the meaningful vote
  • The Sunday Telegraph, a Brexit-supporting newspaper publishes a poll suggesting the public backs a no-deal Brexit

Lib-Dems: Labour lukewarm on fresh referendum (11:15 a.m.)

The Liberal Democrats, who favor a second referendum, accused the Labour Party of backing away from a commitment to amend May’s Brexit vote in the coming week after spokesman Kier Starmer ruled out a motion.

"Labour’s apparent belated support for a People’s Vote needs to be put to the test very soon, the party’s Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said in an email. “If not Tuesday, when?’’

Hunt Says He Backs No-Deal Brexit (11:10 a.m.)

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt hinted he will vote in favor of Britain leaving the EU without a deal on Wednesday if May’s meaningful vote fails on Tuesday. The government is committed to holding a vote on a measure to leave the bloc March 29 without a deal if May’s vote loses.

He declined to answer a direct question about how he plans to vote, instead telling the BBC’s “Andrew Marr Show” that “I don’t think we should be taking no-deal off the table.’’ Hunt is reported to want to lead the party in future and he is burnishing his Brexit credentials.

Hunt appealed to Conservative members of Parliament to back May’s deal on Tuesday, warning of the “devastating’’ effects on the future of the party if it fails to deliver Brexit.

Hunt’s warned that if members of Parliament like Davis vote down May then Brexit could be forfeited entirely.

“There is wind in the sails of people trying to stop Brexit,’’ Hunt 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 things.’’

He also appealed to the EU for “realism’’ in helping Attorney General Geoffrey Cox secure legally-binding changes to the backstop in order to help May get her deal through Parliament. “Divorcing couples don’t often end up living next door to each other,’’ he said of the EU and U.K.’s future relationship.

McDonnell: Delay to Brexit Almost Certain (10:45 a.m.)

Labour’s treasury spokesman John McDonnell said May would almost certainly have to secure a delay to Brexit in order to allow time for legislation to pass the British Parliament.

“There is no point having a delay if she is going to run down the clock again and come back with the same deal,’’ McDonnell told the BBC, adding that a “confirmatory’’ second nationwide referendum on any deal may be necessary. If Parliament “can’t come to a conclusion’’ then there is “the option of going back to the people.’’

Conservative Davis: May’s Deal ‘Rescuable’ (10:35 am)

Conservative lawmaker and former Brexit Secretary David Davis tells the BBC’s Andrew Marr show May’s deal with the EU is “dreadul’’ but could be “resucable’’ with changes to the backstop.

Hancock: ‘Not inevitable’ May’s vote will fail (9:45 a.m)

“In the event of this vote on Tuesday not going through, there will be total uncertainty – that is the only certainty,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News, urging Tory colleagues and other parties to back May’s deal.

Labour expects up-or-down vote on Brexit deal (9:25 a.m.)

The opposition Labour Party said it would not put down an amendment to force a second referendum on Tuesday in order to “expose” May’s weakness.

“There is a growing feeling that Tuesday should be a straight up-down vote on the deal,’’ Labour’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer told Sky News. “Tuesday is about exposing the weakness of the prime minister.” He added that when Parliament subsequently debates a delay to Brexit he views “a delay of about three months is probably do-able; anything above that is difficult.”

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