Theresa May's Brexit deal returns to the Commons tomorrow 11 months ago

Theresa May's Brexit deal returns to the Commons tomorrow


Theresa May brings her withdrawal agreement back to the House of Commons on Friday. An unplanned Brexit debate was inserted into parliament's business at the eleventh hour by Andrea Leadsom, leader of the House.

The Speaker, John Bercow, had previously blocked any return of the prime minister's Brexit deal - citing 400-year-old precedent against repeatedly presenting the Commons with the same question if rejected.

However, in this instance MPs are only being asked to pass the withdrawal agreement, not the political declaration. This distinction is seemingly adequate to circumvent Bercow.

Friday is a symbolic day, March 29, the original date of the UK's departure from the European Union after triggering Article 50.

This may apply significant pressure to MPs looking to defeat May's deal - who wants to be seen voting against Brexit on the day we're meant to Leave.

The UK will leave without a deal on April 12 if it doesn't agree a Brexit deal by the end of this week. If agreed, an extension until May 22 comes into effect. A key date, because European elections are due to beheld on May 23.

Alternatively, the UK could revoke Article 50 and opt for a years' long extension.

John Bercow, speaker of the House (Credit: Jack Taylor) John Bercow, speaker of the House (Credit: Jack Taylor)

By separating the withdrawal agreement from the political declaration more MPs may be inclined to support the prime minister's deal, which has suffered two historic defeats in the Commons.

A reason for this is that the political declaration states there would not be a customs union between the UK and EU. The Labour party's Brexit position is for there to be a customs union. Therefore, by not voting on the political declaration some Labour MPs may be swayed into supporting the withdrawal agreement only.

Jeremy Corbyn said Labour would not support the deal tomorrow.

Theresa May's de-facto deputy David Liddington, speaking at the British Chambers of Commerce conference in London today, said: "If you believe in delivering the referendum result by leaving the EU with a deal then it is necessary to back the withdrawal agreement,” he told the British Chambers of Commerce conference in London.

"Whether a particular MP wants the final destination to look like Norway or look like Canada or look like the proposals in the Chequers white paper, the starting point is the withdrawal agreement itself."

At the same conference, Labour's Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: "If the prime minister tries to separate the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration altogether, that only makes matters worse. We would be leaving the EU, but with absolutely no idea where we are heading. That cannot be acceptable and Labour will not vote for it."

Got that? Phew.