Theresa May's office blasts MPs' Brexit moves

British Prime Minister Theresa May is due to tell lawmakers today what her plans are for Brexit after MPs’ rejection of the divorce deal.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is due to tell lawmakers today what her plans are for Brexit after MPs’ rejection of the divorce deal. PHOTO: DPA

It finds reports of lawmakers' plot to seize control of exit process 'extremely concerning'

LONDON • British Prime Minister Theresa May's Downing Street office said reported plots by lawmakers to seize control of the Brexit process from the government were "extremely concerning".

Downing Street yesterday blasted the reported moves by MPs seeking to rewrite the rules of the House of Commons in an attempt to take control of the business of the lower chamber in order to frustrate Mrs May's Brexit plans.

Groups of MPs are planning to table such amendments this week, newspapers reported yesterday.

"The British public voted to leave the European Union and it is vital that elected politicians deliver upon that verdict," a Downing Street spokesman said.

"Any attempt to remove the government's power to meet the legal conditions of an orderly exit at this moment of historic significance is extremely concerning. This news should serve as a reminder to those MPs who want to deliver Brexit that they need to vote for it - otherwise there is a danger that Parliament could stop Brexit."

Mrs May is due to spell out to lawmakers today what her plans are for Brexit following MPs' overwhelming rejection of the divorce deal agreed between London and Brussels.

She was also due to speak to ministers yesterday on a conference call, a government source said, as she tries to navigate a way through the competing visions for the future - from a second referendum to staying in the EU.

Mrs May has opened talks with other parties to try to find a way to break the deadlock. But with Labour refusing to take part until Mrs May rules out leaving the EU on March 29 without a deal, some lawmakers fear those talks will change little.


International Trade Secretary Liam Fox warned of a "political tsunami" if MPs fail to deliver on the 2016 referendum vote to leave the bloc.

He also slammed people calling for Mrs May to rule out a no-deal Brexit - a key demand of the Labour main opposition - saying the "most stupid thing possible" in a negotiation is to "give away your strongest card".

"Failure to deliver Brexit would produce a yawning gap between Parliament and the people, a schism in our political system with unknowable consequences," Dr Fox, a senior pro-Brexit Cabinet minister, wrote in The Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

"It is time for MPs to deliver on the promises they made. It is a matter of honour and a matter of duty."

Meanwhile, The Sunday Times newspaper reported yesterday that Mrs May plans to seek a bilateral treaty with the Irish government as a way to remove the contentious backstop arrangement from Britain's divorce deal with the European Union.

The report said aides to Mrs May thought a deal with Ireland would remove the opposition to her Brexit plan from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which supports Mrs May's minority government, and from pro-Brexit rebels in her Conservative Party.

However, the Irish edition of the same newspaper quoted a senior Irish government source as saying the bilateral treaty proposal was "not something we would entertain" and a second senior political source as saying it would not work with the European Commission.

Many Conservatives and the DUP oppose the backstop that the European Union insists on as a guarantee to avoid a hard border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.

Earlier on Saturday, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said Dublin's commitment to the Brexit divorce deal struck with the British government was "absolute", including the border backstop arrangement.



A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2019, with the headline 'May's office blasts MPs' Brexit moves'. Print Edition | Subscribe