May runs the gauntlet of MP fury in the Commons

Theresa May pleaded with MPs not to send Britain ‘back to square one’ today as she ran the gauntlet of fury in the Commons.

The Prime Minister made her latest desperate bid to win over critics after sealing the package at an EU summit over the weekend. 

Despite looking on track for a catastrophic defeat in a crunch vote in Parliament next month, Mrs May told MPs they had a ‘duty’ to listen to constituents and do ‘what is in the national interest’. 

But she was berated by politicians from all sides – including Boris Johnson, David Davis and Iain Duncan Smith. The DUP again condemned the backstop, while Jeremy Corbyn said the package pleased ‘nobody’.

Even previous loyalists such as ex-Cabinet minister Sir Michael Fallon joined in the criticism. 

Extraordinarily, it took over an hour of brutal attacks from across the chamber before the first MP – Nicky Morgan – spoke in defence of Mrs May.

The mauling underlines the massive task facing the PM, as she stares down the barrel of almost certain disaster in the House next month.

It came after Mrs May told the Cabinet that the breakthrough in Brussels meant the doubters had been ‘proved wrong’.

Downing Street is plotting a huge PR drive to force the agreement through the Commons, with claims the highlight of the campaign could be a TV showdown with Mr Corbyn.

The Prime Minister ran the gauntlet of MP anger in the House of Commons this afternoon, as she was mauled from politicians in all parties

The Prime Minister ran the gauntlet of MP anger in the House of Commons this afternoon, as she was mauled from politicians in all parties

The Prime Minister ran the gauntlet of MP anger in the House of Commons this afternoon, as she was mauled from politicians in all parties

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson

David Davis

David Davis

Theresa May was slammed by a succession of senior Tories including Boris Johnson (left) and David Davis (right)

But Brexiteer Cabinet ministers are still deeply unhappy with package – with Andrea Leadsom and Penny Mordaunt among those on ‘resignation watch’. 

They have remained stubbornly silent while other colleagues voiced support for the deal.

Other ministers are said to have formed an alliance to push for a Norway-style relationship with the EU if Mrs May’s deal falls in the face of massive opposition from scores of Tories, Labour, the SNP and Lib Dems.

Even supportive ministers are in despair at the situation, with one senior source telling MailOnline they feared the Tories were about to experience a ‘nuclear meltdown’ that could rip the party to shreds. 

Despite the deepening woes, No10 said the Cabinet ‘congratulated’ the PM and ‘thanked her for all her hard work on securing a deal’.

In her Commons statement, the PM said: ‘Our duty as a Parliament over these coming weeks is to examine this deal in detail, to debate it respectfully, to listen to our constituents and decide what is in our national interest.

‘There is a choice which MPs will have to make. We can back this deal, deliver on the vote of the referendum and move on to building a brighter future of opportunity and prosperity for all our people.

‘Or this House can choose to reject this deal and go back to square one … It would open the door to more division and more uncertainty, with all the risks that will entail.’

She insisted that ‘the national interest is clear’ and ‘the British people want us to get on with a deal that honours the referendum’.

Mrs May admitted some MPs were deeply concerned about the Irish border backstop. 

But she insisted it was an insurance policy that ‘no-one wants to use’. 

Sir Michael Fallon, previously among the most loyal of Tory MPs, said: ‘Nobody can doubt that the Prime Minister has tried her very best, are we not nonetheless being asked to take a huge gamble here?

What happens now the Brexit deal has been signed off in Brussels? 

Brexit passed a major milestone in Brussels today as EU leaders agreed the negotiated divorce deal.

This is what the next steps are: 

Today:Theresa May will make statement to MPs on the summit and launch her push to win the ‘meaningful vote’ on the deal. She can expect another furious response from MPs. 

Around December 11: The meaningful vote itself. This is the absolutely crucial moment and could make or break the Prime Minister and her deal. MPs will vote after a debate that could last as long as five days. 

If the vote carries, Mrs May survives and Brexit is on track as she plans. If she loses, she could resign.  

December 13-14: The next EU summit. If the deal has been rejected by MPs, Mrs May could use this to try and secure new concessions. 

January 2019: The European Parliament is due to vote on the deal – but will only do so if it has been agreed in the House of Commons.

March 29, 2019: Exit day. This is written in law so unless there is a dramatic shift Britain will leave the EU, deal or no deal.  

‘Paying, leaving, surrendering our vote and our veto without any firm commitment to frictionless trade or the absolute right to dismantle external tariffs.

‘Is it really wise to trust the future of our economy to a pledge simply to use best endeavours?’

Mrs May responded saying that it was not possible to sign a legally binding free trade agreement with the European Union until the UK had left the EU. 

Conservative former leader Mr Duncan Smith raised questions over the backstop arrangement, asking the Prime Minister: ‘Does she recognise the genuine and real concern held on all sides of the House about what would happen if the UK was to be forced into the backstop?’

Mr Duncan Smith said the PM had recognised the UK and EU do not want the backstop arrangement before citing Ireland’s desire to avoid a hard border.

He added: ‘It makes you wonder why is it in the Withdrawal Agreement at all?’

Remainer Conservative Anna Soubry asked the Prime Minister to give the Commons a plan B as her Brexit deal would be voted down.

She said: ‘As it currently stands, the majority of people in this House will not vote in favour of the Prime Minister’s deal, despite her very best efforts, so she needs Plan B.

‘What is the Prime Minister’s Plan B – is it Norway, plus the single market, the customs union, which some of us have been arguing for for over two years?’

Mrs May joked: ‘I’m tempted to say to her that throughout the last 18 months of these negotiations at virtually every stage people have said to me it wasn’t possible for me to negotiate a deal with the EU – No sooner do I then people are saying ‘well what’s the next thing you’re going to negotiate’.’

Struggling to defend her deal, Mrs May insisted that ‘both the UK and the EU are fully committed to having our future relationship in place by 1st January 2021’.

‘And the Withdrawal Agreement has a legal duty on both sides to use best endeavours to avoid the backstop ever coming into force. 

‘If, despite this, the future relationship is not ready by the end of 2020, we would not be forced to use the backstop. We would have a clear choice between the backstop or a short extension to the Implementation Period.

‘If we did choose the backstop, the legal text is clear that it should be temporary and that the Article 50 legal base cannot provide for a permanent relationship.’

Mrs May added: ‘Furthermore, as a result of the changes we have negotiated, the legal text is now also clear that once the backstop has been superseded, it shall ‘cease to apply’.

‘So if a future Parliament decided to then move from an initially deep trade relationship to a looser one, the backstop could not return. I do not pretend that either we or the EU are entirely happy with these arrangements. And that’s how it must be – were either party entirely happy, that party would have no incentive to move on to the future relationship.

‘But there is no alternative deal that honours our commitments to Northern Ireland which does not involve this insurance policy. And the EU would not have agreed any future partnership without it. Put simply, there is no deal that comes without a backstop, and without a backstop there is no deal.’ 

But senior Brexiteers ridiculed her chances of getting the package through parliament – saying it was already ‘dead’.

Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom

Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom

Aid Secretary Penny Mordaunt in Downing Street today

Aid Secretary Penny Mordaunt in Downing Street today

Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom (pictured left) and Aid Secretary Penny Mordaunt (right) are among those on ‘resignation watch’ after failing to back Mrs May’s deal publicly

More than 90 Tories have publicly committed to opposing the deal, and one jibed that the whips ‘don’t have enough thumbscrews’ to turn the tide.

Another MP pointed out that at least two whips were likely to vote against. 

As the government scrambles for support, Cabinet Office minister David Lidington and No10 chief of staff Gavin Barwell are due to woo Labour MPs in briefings at Parliament this evening,

EU leaders signing off the agreement in less than 40 minutes at a summit yesterday has paved the way for a titanic showdown in Parliament.

The clash is expected to happen on December 12 – and could define the fate of the country as well as Mrs May.

She has already started a campaign of selling her deal directly to the public in the hope they will put pressure on MPs.

Downing Street refused to confirm or deny reports that Mrs May is keen on the TV showdown with Mr Corbyn, which some allies believe would allow her to display her superior mastery of the detail. 

Is May’s deal already sunk? Eighty nine Tories have already come out against it meaning she must find more than 90 votes from Brexiteer rebels, DUP and Labour to get it through the Commons

Theresa May has secured her deal in Brussels but her fight to get it actually in place in time for Brexit day is just beginning.

The ‘meaningful vote’ promised to MPs is expected to happen in early December and is the single biggest hurdle to the Brexit deal happening – and Mrs May’ fate as PM.

Mrs May needs at least 318 votes in the Commons if all 650 MPs turns up – but can probably only be confident of around 230 votes.

The number is less than half because the four Speakers, 7 Sinn Fein MPs and four tellers will not take part.

The situation looks grim for Mrs May and her whips: now the deal has been published, 89 of her own MPs and the 10 DUP MPs have publicly stated they will join the Opposition parties in voting No.

This means the PM could have as few as 225 votes in her corner – leaving 410 votes on the other side, a landslide majority 185.

This is how the House of Commons might break down:

Mrs May needs at least 318 votes in the Commons if all 650 MPs turns up – but can probably only be confident of around 230 votes.

Mrs May needs at least 318 votes in the Commons if all 650 MPs turns up - but can probably only be confident of around 230 votes.

Mrs May needs at least 318 votes in the Commons if all 650 MPs turns up - but can probably only be confident of around 230 votes.

Mrs May needs at least 318 votes in the Commons if all 650 MPs turns up – but can probably only be confident of around 230 votes.

The Government (plus various hangers-on)

Who are they: All members of the Government are the so-called ‘payroll’ vote and are obliged to follow the whips orders or resign. It includes the Cabinet, all junior ministers, the whips and unpaid parliamentary aides.

There are also a dozen Tory party ‘vice-chairs and 17 MPs appointed by the PM to be ‘trade envoys’.

How many of them are there? 178.

What do they want? For the Prime Minister to survive, get her deal and reach exit day with the minimum of fuss.

Many junior ministers want promotion while many of the Cabinet want to be in a position to take the top job when Mrs May goes.

How will they vote? With the Prime Minister.

European Research Group Brexiteers demanding a No Confidence Vote

Who are they: The most hardline of the Brexiteers, they launched a coup against Mrs May after seeing the divorce. Led by Jacob Rees-Mogg and Steve Baker.

How many of them are there: 26

What do they want: The removal of Mrs May and a ‘proper Brexit’. Probably no deal now, with hopes for a Canada-style deal later.

How will they vote: Against the Prime Minister.

Other Brexiteers in the ERG

Who are they: There is a large block of Brexiteer Tory MPs who hate the deal but have so far stopped short of moving to remove Mrs May – believing that can destroy the deal instead. They include ex Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith and ex minister Owen Paterson.

Ex ministers like Boris Johnson and David Davis are also in this group – they probably want to replace Mrs May but have not publicly moved against her.

How many of them are there? Around 50.

What do they want? The ERG has said Mrs May should abandon her plans for a unique trade deal and instead negotiate a ‘Canada plus plus plus’ deal.

This is based on a trade deal signed between the EU and Canada in August 2014 that eliminated 98 per cent of tariffs and taxes charged on goods shipped across the Atlantic.

The EU has long said it would be happy to do a deal based on Canada – but warn it would only work for Great Britain and not Northern Ireland.

How will they vote: Against the Prime Minister.

Remain including the People’s Vote supporters

Who are they: Tory MPs who believe the deal is just not good enough for Britain. They include the group of unrepentant Remainers who want a new referendum like Anna Soubry and ex-ministers who quit over the deal including Jo Johnson and Phillip Lee.

How many of them are there: Maybe around 10.

What do they want? To stop Brexit. Some want a new referendum, some think Parliament should step up and say no.

A new referendum would take about six months from start to finish and they group wants Remain as an option on the ballot paper, probably with Mrs May’s deal as the alternative.

How will they vote? Against the Prime Minister.

Moderates in the Brexit Delivery Group (BDG) and other Loyalists

Who are they? A newer group, the BDG counts members from across the Brexit divide inside the Tory Party. It includes former minister Nick Boles and MPs including Remainer Simon Hart and Brexiteer Andrew Percy.

There are also lots of unaligned Tory MPs who are desperate to talk about anything else.

How many of them are there? Based on public declarations, about 48 MPs have either said nothing or backed the deal.

What do they want? The BDG prioritises delivering on Brexit and getting to exit day on March 29, 2019, without destroying the Tory Party or the Government. If the PM gets a deal the group will probably vote for it.

It is less interested in the exact form of the deal but many in it have said Mrs May’s Chequers plan will not work.

Mr Boles has set out a proposal for Britain to stay in the European Economic Area (EEA) until a free trade deal be negotiated – effectively to leave the EU but stay in close orbit as a member of the single market.

How will they vote? With the Prime Minister.


Who are they? The Northern Ireland Party signed up to a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement with the Conservative Party to prop up the Government.

They are Unionist and say Brexit is good but must not carve Northern Ireland out of the Union.

How many of them are there? 10.

What do they want? A Brexit deal that protects Northern Ireland inside the UK.

How will they vote? Against the Prime Minister on the grounds they believe the deal breaches the red line of a border in the Irish Sea.

Labour Loyalists

Who are they? Labour MPs who are loyal to Jeremy Corbyn and willing to follow his whipping orders.

How many of them are there? Up to 250 MPs depending on exactly what Mr Corbyn orders them to do.

What do they want? Labour policy is to demand a general election and if the Government refuses, ‘all options are on the table’, including a second referendum.

Labour insists it wants a ‘jobs first Brexit’ that includes a permanent customs union with the EU. It says it is ready to restart negotiations with the EU with a short extension to the Article 50 process.

The party says Mrs May’s deal fails its six tests for being acceptable.

How will they vote? Against the Prime Minister’s current deal.

Labour Rebels

Who are they? A mix of MPs totally opposed to Mr Corbyn’s leadership, some Labour Leave supporters who want a deal and some MPs who think any deal will do at this point.

How many of them are there? Maybe 10 to 20 MPs but this group is diminishing fast – at least for the first vote on the deal.

What do they want? An orderly Brexit and to spite Mr Corbyn.

How will they vote? With the Prime Minister.

Other Opposition parties

Who are they? The SNP, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Green Caroline Lucas and assorted independents.

How many of them are there? About 60 MPs.

How will they vote? Mostly against the Prime Minister – though two of the independents are suspended Tories and two are Brexiteer former Labour MPs.

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