London, January 6: As parliament resumes after the Christmas-New Year break on Monday, Prime Minister Theresa May on Sunday promised to provide recalcitrant MPs clarity on key issues in the EU withdrawal agreement that will be put to a vote in the week beginning January 14.
May went on television and wrote in a Sunday tabloid to say that she would set out new measures on the so-called ‘backstop’ provision in the agreement applicable to Northern Ireland, which is seen by many MPs as keeping the UK in hock to EU rules indefinitely.
The withdrawal agreement needs to be passed in parliament before it takes the form of a treaty between the UK and EU on their future relations after the UK formally leaves the 28-nation group on March 29. It is unlikely to pass under current circumstances.
Asked what had changed since December, when voting on the agreement was put off, May told BBC that the EU had agreed to some “changes” and she was continuing to talk to European leaders as she tried and give MPs the “confidence” to support the deal.
“The deal is on the table. We’ve got people who want to see their perfect Brexit. And I would say don’t let the search for the perfect be the enemy of the good. The danger there is that we end up with no Brexit at all,” she said.
Warning of the UK moving into ‘uncharted territory’ if the deal is not passed and the country leaves the EU without an agreement in place, May promised to give more detail in three areas: specific measures for Northern Ireland, a greater role for parliament in negotiations on the next stage of future UK-EU relations, and further assurances from the EU to address concerns over the ‘backstop’.
Meanwhile, a new poll of more than 25,000 people suggested that Labour would be punished by voters if the party either ends up backing the government’s Brexit deal or does not actively oppose it.
Senior Labour leader Jonathan Ashworth said it was completely wrong to suggest that Labour was enabling Brexit: “We are committed to voting against Theresa May’s deal. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was delayed, that shows how beleaguered this Tory cabinet is”.
“But then if that is voted down, it is incumbent upon the government to come forward with alternative proposals and try to renegotiate,” he added. (Agencies)