Prime Minister rules out meaningful vote on Brexit in Commons this week

Prime Minister Theresa May has ruled out putting a "meaningful vote" on Brexit to the Commons this week, but insisted one would be held by March 12.

Mrs May also said that Cabinet collective responsibility had not broken down after pro-EU ministers signalled they could support backbench moves to delay withdrawal in order to prevent a no-deal exit from the bloc.

The PM said that because "positive" talks were ongoing with the EU, a meaningful vote would not be held this week.

Brexit
Pro-EU Cabinet ministers Business Secretary Greg Clark, Works and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd and Justice Secretary David Gauke (PA)

Speaking on her way to an EU-League of Arab States summit in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, the Prime Minister said: "I was in Brussels last week. Ministers were in Brussels last week. My team will be back in Brussels again this coming week. They will be returning to Brussels on Tuesday.

"As a result of that we won't bring a meaningful vote to Parliament this week. But we will ensure that that happens by March 12.

"But it is still within our grasp to leave the European Union with a deal on March 29."

Asked how the Government would treat non-binding motions expected this week which call for the ruling out of a no-deal exit, and which demand an extension of Article 50, Mrs May said: "We don't know what amendments are going to be tabled.

"We don't know what amendments are going to be selected.

"You haven't even seen what motion the Government is going to put down – as I say, it won't be the meaningful vote.

"I will be making a statement to Parliament on Tuesday. And then, obviously, we'll be having the debate the next day."

The PM said the Government was still in talks with the EU about the Northern Ireland backstop.

Mrs May said: "We are still in that negotiation. We are still talking to the EU about various ways in which we can find a resolution to the issue that Parliament raised."

The PM insisted collective Cabinet responsibility had not broken down after the intervention by Amber Rudd, Greg Clark and David Gauke indicating that they could back parliamentary moves to stop a no deal.

The PM said: "No, collective responsibility has not broken down.

"What we have seen around the Cabinet table, in the party, and in the country at large is strong views on the issue of Europe.

"That is not a surprise to anybody.

"We have around the Cabinet table a collective, not just responsibility, but desire, to actually ensure that we leave the European Union with a deal. That's what we're working for and that's what I'm working for."

Asked if the three ministers should remain in Government, Mrs May said: "What we see around the Cabinet table is strong views held on the issue of Europe."

Mrs May said that extending Article 50 would not deal with the issues.

The PM said: "Now, often people talk about the extension of Article 50 as if that will actually solve the issue. Of course it won't. It defers the point of decision. There comes a point where we need to make that decision.

"Extension of Article 50 doesn't solve the problem.

"There will always come a point where we have to decide whether we accept the deal that's been negotiated or not.

"And that will be a decision for every member of Parliament across the House.

"Every member of the Commons will have to face that decision when that point comes.

"The Government will be bringing back, working with the EU, and will want to put a deal to the House of Commons in a meaningful vote."

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