Theresa May is preparing to put the final touches on her “bold offer” to MPs in a fourth and final attempt to get her Brexit deal through parliament.The prime minister is preparing to hold talks with senior ministers that she hopes will see them sign off on a supposedly enticing new package of measures to be included in her much-maligned withdrawal agreement, which has already been rejected three times by MPs.
Few in Westminster expect any changes to the deal to be enough to win the cross-party support it needs to pass, which would leave Mrs May looking destined for a meek finale to a premiership set to be further undermined by a potentially disastrous set of results in the upcoming European elections.
‘Choice for MPs to deliver Brexit or not’
The Conservatives are braced for a hammering at the hands of the newly-formed Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage when voters go to the polls on Thursday, with one weekend poll placing them fifth behind the Greens.Labour is also expecting a tough set of results in the elections, which come two months after the UK was first scheduled to leave the EU.
‘Public don’t want a Brexit deal’ – Farage
Both of the main parties in the Commons are expected to suffer because of their respective stances on Brexit, with a resurgent Liberal Democrats tipped to come second to the Brexit Party.Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised for facing both ways on a potential second referendum, and his position has not become any clearer since he pulled out of talks with the prime minister that had been designed to find common ground on how parliament could deliver Brexit.
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Upon the breakdown of the discussions, the Labour leader said “we have been unable to bridge important policy gaps between us” and that the impending Tory leadership race had made the government “unstable”.
‘Fundamental disagreements’ during Brexit talks
Mrs May has said she will set a timetable for her exit from Downing Street early next month – after the proposed final vote on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in the week beginning 3 June.With the failed talks with Labour making sufficient cross-party support unlikely to arrive by then, the Brexit secretary has admitted that no-deal preparations may have to be brought forward.Stephen Barclay told Sky News: “Members of Parliament do need to face facts, and if the deal were not to go through then there are only two alternatives – you either leave with a no-deal or you revoke.”
Sir Vince Cable is hoping the Lib Dems benefit from the Brexit chaos at the European elections
The reason most expect the deal to be rejected again is that the new package – which the Press Association reports will include measures on protecting workers’ rights and provisions on future trade arrangements with the EU – will not include changes to what Mrs May has already agreed with Brussels.It means the controversial Northern Ireland backstop, which the EU has said must remain to prevent a hard border on the island, will not be re-negotiated.According to PA, the only Northern Ireland-related measure in the new package is a proposal for the use of technology to avoid the need for border controls with the Republic.
PM ‘determined’ to secure Brexit – then resign
Despite it being unlikely to make enough of a difference to the outcome of the vote next month, the package is expected to be approved by ministers following a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.Ministers will also consider whether to again put any alternative Brexit approaches to indicative votes in the Commons to establish whether any can command a majority, with previous attempts having failed to do so.Regardless of the outcome of the vote, Mrs May will then meet with the 1922 Committee Chairman Sir Graham Brady to agree a timetable to elect her successor as party leader.Boris Johnson has confirmed he will be running, with the former foreign secretary emerging as the early favourite among party members and bookmakers.International Development Secretary Rory Stewart also plans to stand, as does the former work and pensions secretary Esther McVey.
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