Theresa May seeks new vote on bill needed to deliver Brexit as talks with Labour flounder
Theresa May will attempt as early next week to push through legislation needed to deliver Brexit, following a barrage of criticism over the Easter weekend about her handling of the negotiations.
Downing Street said it aimed to bring the Withdrawal Agreement Bill that is needed to ratify May's deal, which has been rejected three times by MPs, “as soon as possible”.
The Prime Minister went into the Easter recess having been forced to seek an extension to Article 50, the mechanism that allows the UK to leave the EU, until 31 October, drawing the ire of many Brexiters in her party.
She is now facing a mounting Tory rebellion over her leadership, after 70 associations signed a petition calling for her to go. The influential 1922 Committee of Tory MPs will meet this evening to discuss tearing up the party rulebook in a move that could force May out, despite her winning a confidence vote on her leadership last December.
The move would formalise Britain’s exit from the bloc on the 22 May, ahead of the European Parliament elections, by embedding the treaty in law. The government had initially attempted to precede legislation with a so-called meaningful vote in the Commons, but attempts to win MPs’ support resulted in a series of humiliating defeats for the PM. A push to enshrine legislation is likely to face the same cocktail of opposition for hardline Brexiters, opposition party members and May’s allies in the DUP.
The latest attempt by May to pave the way for her Brexit deal comes as talks with Labour aimed at reaching a compromise appeared to show not sign of a breakthrough.
Earlier in the day, Number 10 accused Labour of holding up the progress in the talks. The Prime Minister's spokesperson told reporters: “The PM said the discussions with Labour had been serious, but had also been difficult in some areas, such as in relation to the timetable for the negotiations.
“The PM said that the government’s position was that progress needed to be made urgently as it was vital to deliver on the result of the referendum and for the UK to leave the European Union as soon as possible.
“Cabinet agreed on the need to secure safe passage of the withdrawal agreement bill, WAB, through parliament as soon as possible in order to allow the UK to complete the ratification of its orderly departure from the EU.”
The pressure to end the Brexit deadlock comes as next month's European elections loom over May, with recent polls showing Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party storming ahead of the Tories and his former party, Ukip.