Theresa May, U.K. prime minister, left (Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg)

May Says Vote on Deal to Go Ahead Week of Jan. 14: Brexit Update

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May urged members of Parliament to back the Brexit deal she’s struck with the European Union in a key vote later this month. But speaking to the BBC, she declined to rule out the possibility of a second referendum on EU membership if the House of Commons rejects her plan.

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  • Premier refuses to say if she’d make Parliament vote multiple times on her deal if first attempt fails
  • May could delay Parliamentary vote on Brexit deal for second time, Sunday Telegraph reports
  • Debate on deal begins Wednesday; vote currently set for week beginning Jan. 14

Brexit Deal’s Irish Backstop is ‘Poison:’ DUP (2:13 p.m.)

Just to emphasize the challenge May faces in getting her Brexit deal through Parliament, Democratic Unionist Party Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds issued a statement Sunday saying "the fundamental problems which make this a bad deal appear not to have changed" over the Christmas break.

He laid the blame "primarily" with the EU and said the Irish government "has quickly shut down any possibility of a breakthrough by its now familiar tactic of a fast and flat rejection of any form of compromise."

"The backstop remains the poison which makes any vote for the Withdrawal Agreement so toxic," Dodds said. "This is a time for the United Kingdom to make clear what it wants and needs for a Withdrawal Agreement to pass Parliament so that the EU is in no doubt as to what’s required for a deal."

A reminder that the DUP has 10 lawmakers in Parliament, without whose support May can’t win a vote, assuming all the opposition parties hold firm against her deal.

Lawmakers Seek Say Over No-Deal Brexit Chances (11:55 am.)

A cross-party group of lawmakers has tabled an amendment to the Finance Bill that will work its way through Parliament next week. They want to change the bill, which would implement the government’s budget plans, to ensure that the “no deal” provisions in the legislation couldn’t be implemented without Parliament agreeing. Their goal is to ensure that a “no deal” Brexit could only be delivered with the explicit consent of Parliament -- something that is unlikely given a majority of lawmakers oppose such an outcome.

“Many of us have been clear that Parliament will not allow a ‘no deal’ situation to unfold, and with less than 12 weeks to go until March 29 it is time for Parliament to show our opposition to a “no deal” exit,” Nicky Morgan, a Conservative former cabinet minister who now chairs the Treasury Select Committee, wrote in an emailed statement.

Morgan joined Labour lawmakers Yvette Cooper and Hilary Benn, chairs of the parliamentary committees overseeing home affairs and Brexit, in putting her name to the amendment. Other members of the ruling Tories to do the same included Oliver Letwin, Nick Boles and Sarah Wollaston.

May Says Shouldn’t Be a Second Referendum (10:43 a.m.)

Speaking on BBC Television’s Andrew Marr Show, Theresa May did not rule out bringing her Brexit deal back for multiple votes, or allowing a second referendum to take place, if that’s what Parliament forces her to do.

She declined to give a clear answer on whether she could push the House of Commons to vote on her deal repeatedly if politicians reject it the first time. When asked if she’d rule out another referendum, she was also careful with her words, saying she’d argue against it.

“In my view there should not be a second referendum,” May said. “It would divide our country.” She also noted that it’s impractical from a logistical perspective, saying there isn’t time to hold one before Britain’s scheduled departure date of March 29, and that the government would have to extend its Article 50 talks with the EU.

Asked whether she would support a “no deal” Brexit instead, she also failed to give a straight answer, hinting that she would fight hard for her “good deal.” One option could be for the government to delay Brexit and extend the Article 50 negotiating period. May said this would be a decision for her government, not for Parliament, to take.

May Says Parliamentary Vote to Proceed (10:40 a.m.)

The premier knocked down talk of a renewed delay to a Parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal, confirming it will take place around Jan. 15. “We are going to hold the vote,” May told Marr. “The debate starts next week and the debate carries on into the following week.”

While avoiding answering a question on whether she’d hold repeated votes to try to get the deal through Parliament, May said “nobody has put forward an alternative” that delivers on the referendum result and on protecting jobs and the economy. She added a warning to her Parliamentary colleagues who are threatening to oppose her deal: “Don’t let the search for the perfect becoming the enemy of the good, because the danger there is we end up with no Brexit at all.”

Labour Prefers Election to Second Referendum (09:45 a.m.)

Barry Gardiner, trade spokesman for the Labour Party, told Sky News the opposition’s policy remains to seek a general election if May can’t get her Brexit deal through Parliament.

That’s despite a YouGov poll on Saturday showing that three-quarters of Labour voters favor a second referendum. The poll of 25,000 people was conducted for People’s Vote, which campaigns for just such an outcome. Gardiner said if Labour won an ensuing election, it would abandon May’s red lines and seek to negotiate a new deal with the EU on Brexit.

Hancock Confident Brexit Won’t Harm Medicines (09:15 a.m.)

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he’s confident Britain will enjoy an “unhindered” supply of medicines in whatever Brexit scenario emerges. He warned, however that it’s not entirely in the power of government to ensure that.

Speaking on Sky News, he also made a strong defense of May’s Brexit deal, calling it “overwhelmingly the best way forward” compared to either a second referendum or no deal.

May Could Delay Brexit Vote Again (Overnight)

The Prime Minister could again delay a Parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal, the Sunday Telegraph reports. May’s aides are drawing up proposals to make any approval by lawmakers for her deal conditional on the European Union making concessions. That would help limit opposition to her plans in the House of Commons, while buying more time for negotiations with the bloc, the paper said.

May: Voting Down Deal Puts Jobs at Risk (Overnight)

The premier, writing an op-ed in the Mail on Sunday, repeated her New Year’s message that Britain can “turn a corner” this year, urging lawmakers to support her Brexit deal because it protects “the jobs our constituents rely on” while respecting the referendum result.

No alternative model for Brexit accomplishes those tasks, she said. Those opposing her deal because they either want a second referendum, or a different version of Brexit, “must realize the risks they are running with our democracy and the livelihoods of our constituents.”

In a reminder that there’s more to the government than just Brexit, May devoted half of her op-ed to the National Health Service. She’s pledged an extra 20.5 billion pounds ($25 billion) a year in health spending by 2024, and is now publicizing the long-term plan ministers and the NHS have devised to spending that money.

It includes measures to improve care, cut waste and hire “tens of thousands more doctors, nurses and other health professionals.”

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