UK PM to warn against 'damage' of second Brexit vote

Theresa May sets out plan for January showdown on her Brexit deal			
				 
   by David Hughes 
  Published

The latest hurdle she must overcome comes from the opposition benches, after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tabled a motion of no confidence in her premiership following a somewhat confusing day in Westminster.

After a tumultuous week in which she survived a confidence vote and sought last-minute changes to a Brexit agreement reached with Brussels last month, May faces deadlock over her deal in the British parliament.

Labour claimed it had forced the prime minister to call the vote but Mrs May has always pledged to hold the vote before Monday, January 21.

Thomas Cole, head of policy at the pro-second referendum People's Vote campaign, said it would be "perfectly legitimate" for the British public to have a second say on Brexit given the parliamentary gridlock.

The prime minister had appeared to have headed that off when she told MPs in a speech that began at 3.30pm that "we intend to return to the meaningful vote debate in the week commencing 7 January and hold the vote the following week".

Making a point of order at about 6pm, Corbyn said, "it's bad, unacceptable, that we should be waiting nearly a month before we have a meaningful vote on the crucial issue facing the future of this country" and demanded that his confidence vote be scheduled as soon as possible.

But she added: "After that we need to find out where the will of Parliament is, where the majority of MPs will vote in Parliament and nothing should be off the table, we should consider all options".

Labour has repeatedly said it will call such a motion at "the best time", or when it knows it can win, and for now will try to force the government to bring its deal to parliament sooner. They should be thinking about the national interest, not party interest, she added.

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"What the prime minister is focused on is securing the extra assurances which are required to get the deal through the House of Commons", her spokesman said.

But even as May insisted she could salvage her unpopular European Union divorce deal, pressure was mounting for dramatic action - a new referendum or a vote among lawmakers - to find a way out of Britain's Brexit impasse.

But he cautioned against a second referendum, saying it would "continue the uncertainty for many more months".

She has previously suggested that a Norway-plus deal, with the United Kingdom in both a customs union and the single market, could be a "plausible" alternative.

Simon Coveney, Ireland's foreign minister, said if Britain wanted to put an "entirely new" Brexit proposal forward, the government would most likely have to delay its departure. But expressing our personal views is not what we are here to do.

Lidington reportedly spoke to Labour MPs last week in the hope of building cross-party consensus around the idea of a second referendum. Losing the vote on such a motion would increase the pressure on May, but unlike a no-confidence vote in the government as a whole it wouldn't trigger a process leading to the fall of the government and an early election.

In the Commons, the Prime Minister will all but rule out holding a second vote while she remains in charge.

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