Theresa May says failure to deliver Brexit will be ‘con trick’ on British people

Theresa May has claimed Parliament would be guilty of the “most egregious con trick” on the British people if it fails to deliver Brexit.

The former prime minister joked she had a “distinct sense of deja vu” as she spoke during a rare Saturday sitting to offer her support to Boris Johnson’s agreement with the EU.

And she insisted Britons would “keep faith” with MPs if they backed leaving the EU.

Her remarks came after Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay warned the Commons risked having a “meaningless” vote if an amendment which could delay Brexit is approved.

He urged Independent former minister Sir Oliver Letwin to withdraw his proposal, which would withhold approval for Boris Johnson’s deal unless and until legislation implementing it is passed.

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Mark Francois (Aaron Chown/PA)

But Sir Oliver said while he supports the PM’s Brexit deal, his amendment would prevent an unintended no-deal Brexit on October 31 and he showed no indication that he was willing to withdraw it.

A cross-party amendment rejecting a no-deal Brexit and seeking a second referendum was also selected for consideration by Speaker John Bercow.

Speaking in the Commons, Conservative Mrs May stressed the importance of the vote before telling MPs: “The position we take tonight will determine not just the future of our country and the future lives of our constituents but, I believe, the very future of our politics.

“Because we have, today, to make a key decision.

“And it is simple, do we want to deliver Brexit?

“Do we want to deliver on the result of the referendum in 2016?”

She added: “When we voted to trigger Article 50, did we really mean it?

“When the two main parties represented in this House stood on manifestos in the 2017 general election to deliver Brexit, did we really mean it?

“I think there can only be one answer to that and that is yes, we did mean it.

“Yes, we keep faith with the British people. Yes we want to deliver Brexit.”

Mrs May added: “If this Parliament did not mean it, then it is guilty of the most egregious con trick on the British people.”

Mrs May said there could not be a second referendum “simply because some people did not agree” with the result of the first one.

Addressing fears of a no-deal Brexit, Mrs May said: “I’ve said it before, I’ve said it many times, I hope this is the last time I have to say it.

“If you don’t want no-deal, you have to vote for a deal. Businesses are crying out for certainty, people want certainty in their lives, our investors to be able to able to invest and want the uncertainty to got rid of.

“They want to know that this country is moving forward.

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Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer (House of Commons/PA)

“If you want to deliver Brexit, if you want to keep faith with British people, if you want this country to move forward then vote for the deal today.”

DUP MP Jim Shannon (Strangford) earlier voiced concerns over Mr Johnson’s deal and warned Unionists in Northern Ireland have been “treated as second-class citizens, and our opinion, I say, means nothing”.

But Tory Brexiteer Mark Francois added: “The ERG (European Research Group) met this morning. And normally our meetings are private.

“But under the circumstances there are three things I thought I should share with the House.

“One, the officers overwhelmingly recommended backing the Prime Minister’s deal. The ERG overwhelmingly recommended the same, and no member of the ERG spoke against it.

“Thirdly, and most importantly, we agreed that if you vote for the deal, you vote for the Bill.

“And if the deal is passed today, we will faithfully vote the Bill through to the end, so we can leave the European Union. You have our word.”

For Labour, shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: “Some colleagues are tempted to vote for the deal because they believe it prevents or removes the possibility of crashing out on WTO terms.

“It does not.

“Under the previous deal, if the future relationship was not ready by the end of transition, the backstop kicked in. That prevented WTO terms.

“That has gone. This is a trap door to no-deal.”

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