Brexit Live: Theresa May sets out ‘new deal’
Mrs May is due to outline her latest plan to push her Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament on the fourth attempt and see the UK achieve Brexit.
The speech follows a Cabinet meeting where two hours was spent discussing the Brexit plan, with Mrs May’s spokesman acknowledging there were “strong opinions” around the table but also a “determination” to get a deal through Parliament.
The Withdrawal Agreement Bill will go to the Commons in early June, with defeat likely to hasten Mrs May’s departure from Number 10.
The Prime Minister said her Withdrawal Agreement Bill will include a vote on whether to hold a second referendum.
There was immediate reaction from MPs, with Conserative Simon Clarke tweeting that it was outrageous:
Mrs May also said the Government will commit in law to let Parliament decide on the customs issue.
Mrs May said her new Brexit deal had “listened to Unionist concerns” about the Irish backstop.
“So the new Brexit deal goes further,” she said. “It will commit that should the backstop come into force the Government will commit to ensure that Great Britain will stay aligned with Northern Ireland.
“We will prohibit the proposal that a future government could split Northern Ireland off from the UK’s customs territory.”
Mrs May said: “The new Brexit deal will set out in law that the House of Commons would approve the UK’s objectives for the negotiations on our future relations with the EU.
“And they will approve the treaties governing that relationship before the Government signs them.”
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford also said the speech should have been made directly to the House of Commons, tweeting: “Why is the Prime Minister making a speech about a so called new Brexit deal away from Parliament. This is a breech of responsibility.
“Any such statement should be made in Parliament, quite simply this is treating Parliament with contempt. This is not good enough.”
The Prime Minister said there is “one last chance” to help MPs deliver the result of the 2016 referendum, as she offered her “new Brexit deal”.
She confirmed her latest Brexit deal will seek to conclude alternative arrangements for the Irish backstop by December 2020.
At a speech in Westminster, she said: “Although it’s not possible for (alternative arrangements) to replace the backstop in the Withdrawal Agreement, we can start the work now to ensure they are a viable alternative.
“So as part of the new Brexit deal we will place the Government under a legal obligation to seek to conclude alternative arrangements by December 2020 so that we can avoid any need for the backstop coming into force.”
Mrs May began her speech just after 4pm, recounting her efforts over the past two years to achieve Brexit.
As she began, the Labour’s whips office tweeted that it was a shame she had not made it in Parliament, adding: “presumably because she knows her warring Cabinet & party would clearly give away that they don’t support her”.