May urges support for deal in dying hours before vote

Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

British Prime Minister Theresa May has warned opponents of her Brexit deal that they risk “letting the British people down” if they vote to oppose her Brexit deal on Tuesday.

She urged critics to give the deal “a second look”, insisting new assurances on the Irish border had “legal force”.

She said the “history books” would judge if MPs delivered on Brexit while safeguarding the economy and security.

But Jeremy Corbyn said the PM had “completely and utterly failed” and repeated the point that the prime minister will inevitably face “humiliating defeat” in Tuesday’s crunch vote.

The SNP, meanwhile, said the PM was “in fantasy land and the government should stop threatening no-deal”.

MPs will vote on the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and declaration on future relations on Tuesday evening.

Labour and the other opposition parties will vote against the deal while about 100 Conservative MPs, and the Democratic Unionist Party’s 10 MPs, could also join them.

Assistant whip Gareth Johnson has become the latest member of the government to quit his job over the deal, saying in his resignation letter to the PM that it would be “detrimental to our nation’s interests”.

He added: “The time has come to place my loyalty to my country above my loyalty to the government.”

Ahead of the vote, Mrs May has been briefing MPs on the controversial issue of the “backstop” – the insurance plan to avoid any return to physical Northern Ireland border checks.

She said she had won new written assurances from the EU that the contingency customs arrangement being proposed would be temporary and, if it was ever triggered, would last for “the shortest possible period”.Her “absolute conviction” was that the two sides would be able to finalise their future relationship by the end of 2020, meaning the backstop would never be needed.

“It is not perfect but when the history books are written, people will look at the decision of this House tomorrow and ask ‘did we deliver on the country’s vote to leave the EU, did we safeguard our economy, security or union or did we let the British people down,” May said today.

Mrs May’s last-ditch efforts come amid reports MPs plan to take control of Brexit if her deal is defeated.

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