No new vote on Brexit deal without DUP support, says British chancellor

For Theresa May’s deal to go through, it is crucial she wins the support of the Northern Irish party and the European Research Group

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond has been looking to woo the DUP and ERG to back Theresa May's Brexit deal. AFP
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond has been looking to woo the DUP and ERG to back Theresa May's Brexit deal. AFP

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal will not return to the Commons this week unless it has support from the Democratic Unionist Party and more Conservative MPs, the UK chancellor says.

“If the prime minister’s deal is able to muster a majority this week and get through, then we will need a short extension," Philip Hammond told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.

"It’s now physically impossible to leave on the March 29 but we would be able to move very soon.”

Mr Hammond said he could not confirm whether the deadline would be extended to April, May or June, but it would be “very soon”.

With just days before the UK is due to leave the EU, the third vote on Mrs May’s deal is expected in coming days.

The first two votes on her deal were met with crushing defeats, last week by 149 votes and in January by 230 votes, the largest defeat in parliamentary history.

Mr Hammond said he did not yet have the numbers to secure Mrs May's deal: "It is a work in progress."

But he said a significant number of Tory MPs had changed their minds and would back the prime minister's deal if it returned to the Commons.

An official said last week that Tuesday was the most likely day for another vote but Brexit Secretary Liam Fox said Mrs May's deal May would only return to Parliament if the prime minister believed she could win.

It will be crucial that she wins the support of the DUP and the European Research Group, Eurosceptic MPs chaired by MP Jacob Rees-Mogg.

To win the DUP’s support and achieve a Tory majority in a snap general election last year, the British government promised Northern Ireland investment of £1 billion for sectors including infrastructure, education and health.

If Mrs May cannot attract a majority in the House of Commons on third attempt, the chancellor said the government would have to look at a longer extension to the Brexit deadline and the UK would be in “uncharted territory”.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour opposition, said his party’s MPs would probably be told to back an amendment calling for a referendum on any deal approved by Parliament.

“If we’ve got a good deal in which we could have a dynamic relationship with Europe, which was all the trading relationship and so on, then that might be a good way forward that unites the country," Mr Corbyn told Sky News.

Labour needs the support of voters in districts that backed Brexit to win power.

Mr Corbyn repeated his call for a general election and said he might move a motion of no confidence in the government if Mrs May loses in the House of Commons again.

Any referendum question “would obviously have to be a credible choice that’s real for those who wanted to vote Leave, or did vote Leave in 2016, as well as those that voted Remain,” he said.

“We are appealing to people who voted both Leave and Remain, because at the end of the day it’s the social issues facing this country – the poverty, the insecure work, the homelessness and the growing inequality –that are crucial.”

Updated: March 18, 2019 01:38 AM


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