Faced with the prospect of defeat on an amendment to stop no deal, Theresa May has attempted to stave off that rebellion by promising MPs a vote to stop a no-deal Brexit. After a long and fiery Cabinet (James has the details here), the Prime Minister addressed the House to update MPs on her government’s progress in the negotiations. She said that Geoffrey Cox was working with Brussels to win changes to the backstop and reconfirmed her promise to hold a meaningful vote on her deal by 12 March.
However, should her deal be rejected by the House for a second time, May promised to hold a vote by 13 March on whether this House supports the UK leaving without a deal. If the House does not support the UK leaving without a withdrawal agreement, a vote would follow the next day (14 March) on whether the House wants a brief A50 extension. May insisted that despite this move, it was impossible to take no deal off the table full stop. She said an extension cannot take no deal off the table completely, that can only be done by revoking A50 – something she will not do. May added that she is against extending A50 and believes focus ought to be on securing a deal.
So, will this be enough to prevent the Cooper/Letwin amendment forcing the government to extend A50 from passing on Wednesday night? Remain MPs are to meet this afternoon to decided a way forward but the early signs are promising. However, even if defeat is avoided, today’s decision has big repercussions. At present, there is not a majority of MPs in favour of no deal so if MPs fail to get behind May’s deal, the UK looks unlikely to leave the EU at the end of March.