May Deal Gaining Support, Hammond Says: Brexit Update

Theresa May, U.K. prime minister, departs number 10 Downing Street on her way to attend a weekly questions and answers session in Parliament in London, U.K., on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May appealed to lawmakers to get behind her Brexit deal when it next comes before Parliament or risk a long delay that could even stop the breakup altogether.

Key Developments:

May says “there could be no more potent symbol of Parliament’s collective political failure” than the U.K. having to hold elections to the European Parliament Third vote on deal most likely on Tuesday, though Fox and Hammond say it will only happen if the government is confident of victory Corbyn says he might vote to leave in second Brexit referendum if the deal is right

Significant Number Switching, Hammond says (10:50 a.m.)

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said “significant numbers” of Tory MPs are switching sides and will back Theresa May’s Brexit deal when it returns to the House of Commons. Persuading them is “a work in progress” and the government is “not there yet,” he said.

“What’s happened since last Tuesday is a significant number of colleagues have changed their view on this and decided the alternatives are so unpalatable to them that they on reflection think that the prime minister’s deal is the best way to deliver Brexit,” Hammond said in an interview with BBC TV. “We will only bring the deal back if we’re confident enough of our colleagues and the DUP are prepared to support it and get it through Parliament.”

Hammond denied that the Democratic Unionist Party has been offered extra cash for Northern Ireland during talks in the past few days to persuade them to back May’s deal. But he did follow his denial with the observation that there will soon be a spending review that will set payments for devolved authorities including Northern Ireland.

“This isn’t about money, this is about political assurances,” he said. “The discussion has been around how we are going to reassure them about our clear intention to avoid differences in regulatory approach growing up between Northern Ireland and Great Britain and how we can assure them there isn’t going to be a border in the Irish Sea.”

“It’s absolutely vital that we get it though next week, it’s the final chance to do this deal without having a long extension,” Hammond said.

CDU Foreign Policy Chief Backs Year Brexit Extension (10 a.m.)

Norbert Röttgen, the foreign policy leader for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU, called for a Brexit reprieve for up to 12 months, should the U.K. Parliament reject Theresa May’s divorce agreement for the third time.

“If the agreement fails again, the British should be granted a one-time generous extension until about the end of the year or for a year,” Röttgen, chairman of the Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said in an interview with Funke Media Group newspapers. He said the EU would not be negatively affected by this extension.

Corbyn Says He Might Vote to Leave If Deal Right (9:50 a.m)

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, said he would vote to leave in a second referendum if the deal on offer would deliver a trading relationship with the EU that protected British jobs and industry.

The party has not yet decided whether to order its MPs to back an amendment proposing a repeat plebiscite on accepting Theresa May’s deal or remaining in the EU, Corbyn said in an interview with Sky News.

The question in any referendum “would be discussed by Parliament, it would have to be a credible choice that’s real for both those who voted leave as well as those who voted remain,” Corbyn said.

The way he would vote in a referendum would “depend on the choice in front of us,” he said. “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.”

Vote in Parliament Only if May Can Win, Fox Says (9:30 a.m.)

Trade Secretary Liam Fox said there will only be another vote in Parliament on Theresa May’s Brexit deal this week if the prime minister believes she can win.

“There’s no point in having a vote if we have no chance of winning,” Fox said in an interview with Sky News. “It would be difficult to justify.”

Fox said an “administrative extension” would be acceptable to voters if it is clear that Brexit will still go ahead and said promised trade deals will “roll over” from the EU if May’s deal is agreed. Some countries are waiting on Parliament before making commitments, he said.

Fox also criticized cabinet colleagues who put pressure on the prime minister over no deal last week. “It’s not appropriate for cabinet ministers to threaten the prime minister with what they would do if they don’t get what they want,” he said.

McVey Says She Will Back May Deal (9:05 a.m.)

Esther McVey, a Tory lawmaker who quit May’s cabinet in protest at her Brexit deal, said she will vote for the agreement because the calculation has changed.

She told Sky News that she still thinks it is a bad deal but now sees the choice as “this deal or no deal whatsoever.”

May Urges ‘Honorable Compromise’ (Overnight)

Theresa May appealed to lawmakers to reach an “honorable compromise” and support her Brexit deal when it next comes before Parliament – probably on Tuesday, saying that if they don’t there could be a long delay or even no Brexit at all.

“If the proposal were to go back to square one and negotiate a new deal, that would mean a much longer extension,” May said in an op ed for the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

“The idea of the British people going to the polls to elect MEPs three years after voting to leave the EU hardly bears thinking about,” May wrote in reference to elections for the European Parliament in May. “There could be no more potent symbol of Parliament’s collective political failure.” DM


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