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May sets date for return of Withdrawal Agreement – will it be enough to prevent a 1922 rule change?

14 May 2019

11:54 PM

14 May 2019

11:54 PM

After weeks of cross party talks between the Conservatives and Labour, Downing Street have finally announced that Theresa May’s beleaguered Brexit deal will once again be put to a vote. A No. 10 spokesman said:

‘This evening the Prime Minister met the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons to make clear our determination to bring the talks to a conclusion and deliver on the referendum result to leave the EU.

We will therefore be bringing forward the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in the week beginning the 3rd June.

It is imperative we do so then if the UK is to leave the EU before the summer Parliamentary recess.

Talks this evening between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition were both useful and constructive.

Tomorrow talks will continue at an official level as we seek the stable majority in Parliament that will ensure the safe passage of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill and the UK’s swift exit from the EU.’

It’s not clear that May has the votes to pass her deal on a fourth vote. The statement suggests what many Labour politicians have been saying in recent days – no Brexit compromise has been reached. The hope within government is that the European elections next week will provide MPs from both major parties with an incentive to pass a Brexit deal in some form when they return from the recess. Also up in the air is how the bill could be amended. The government is unlikely to have the ability – or even incentive – to fight off amendments.

Tuesday’s update is also an attempt by No. 10 to fight off proposals to oust the Prime Minister in the coming weeks. While May has been under pressure to name a specific date for her departure from No. 10, she has been reluctant to do so on the grounds that it could make it harder for her to pass her Brexit deal. The Prime Minister is due to meet with the 1922 executive of Tory backbenchers on Thursday where the chair – Sir Graham Brady – has said he expects a date. Rather than give a specific date, May has clarified her plans for giving MPs another chance to pass her deal.

The Prime Minister has said she will leave once the first stage of Brexit is complete. However, were May to fail to pass her deal next month on a fourth vote, even her closest allies concede it would still be the end of her premiership. It follows that May is setting out the terms of her departure. The only question that remains is whether it will be enough to stop the 1922 committee executive from voting to change the rules to remove her more quickly when they meet on Thursday.

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