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Halting Brexit "catastrophic" says PM May

AAP  |  14 Jan 2019Text size  Decrease  Increase  |  
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British Prime Minister Theresa May has warned MPs that failing to deliver Brexit would be catastrophic for democracy, two days before parliament is expected to reject her deal with Brussels.

May, who postponed a vote in parliament on her deal in December after admitting she was set to lose it, said MPs must not let down the people who backed Brexit in a June 2016 referendum.

"Doing so would be a catastrophic and unforgivable breach of trust in our democracy," she wrote in the Sunday Express.

"So my message to Parliament this weekend is simple: it is time to forget the games and do what is right for our country."

May has so far refused to retreat from her unpopular deal, which envisages close trading ties with the EU, but without any say on policy as Britain has now, when it exits on March 29.

Theresa May

British Prime Minister Theresa May has warned of catastrophe if Brexit is scrapped

May's deal has come under fire from all sides -- with opponents of the EU seeking a cleaner break and many pro-Europeans pressing for a second referendum. May is expected to suffer a big defeat when parliament votes on Tuesday.

Brexit minister Stephen Barclay told BBC TV that persuading enough MPs to support the deal would be "challenging" but that even if it was rejected, he suspected parliament would ultimately support something "along the lines of this deal".

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said leaving the EU without a deal would be catastrophic and his party would do everything it could to prevent that outcome.

However, Corbyn's priority is to force a national election and he said he would propose a vote of confidence in the government "soon" if May loses on Tuesday.

After a week in which parliament forced the government to promise to come back with a plan B within days if May's deal is rejected, Barclay said the risk of parliament acting in a way that frustrates Brexit had increased.

The Sunday Times reported that rebel MPs were planning to wrest control of the legislative agenda away from May next week with a view to suspending or delaying Brexit, citing a senior government source.

Vince Cable, the leader of the pro-EU Liberal Democrats, said parliament would act to prevent a no deal Brexit, and could ultimately seek to prevent Brexit altogether.
Cable said this could be done by revoking Article 50, the mechanism which triggered the exit process, or by holding a second referendum.

Asked about the prospect of another referendum, Corbyn told BBC TV: "My own view is that I would rather get a negotiated deal now, if we can, to stop the danger of a no-deal exit from the EU on the 29th of March which would be catastrophic for industry, catastrophic for trade."

Corbyn said that if he forced a national election and his party won, Brexit may have to be delayed while they negotiated a new deal with the EU.

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