Parliament is more likely to block Britain’s exit from the European Union than allow it to crash out without a deal, Theresa May is set to warn as she launches a last-ditch plea to MPs to back her Brexit deal.
The Prime Minister will use a speech on the eve of the critical Commons vote on her exit plan to urge MPs to consider the ‘consequences’ of their actions on the faith of British people in democracy.
She is expected to reiterate her warning that ‘catastrophic harm’ will be inflicted to trust in politicians if they fail to implement the result of the referendum.
With less than 36 hours to go until the long-awaited vote, Mrs May will say, based on last week’s Westminster drama, that she now believes MPs blocking Brexit is a more likely outcome than leaving without a deal.
Speaker John Bercow sparked uproar in the Commons last week after he selected an amendment from Tory former minister Dominic Grieve which attempts to speed up the process for the Government to reveal what it will do next if the PM’s Brexit deal is rejected.
Mrs May is expected to tell factory workers in pro-Leave Stoke-on-Trent on Monday: ‘I ask MPs to consider the consequences of their actions on the faith of the British people in our democracy.
‘Imagine if an anti-devolution House of Commons had said to the people of Scotland or Wales that despite voting in favour of a devolved legislature, Parliament knew better and would overrule them. Or else force them to vote again.
‘What if we found ourselves in a situation where Parliament tried to take the UK out of the EU in opposition to a remain vote?
‘People’s faith in the democratic process and their politicians would suffer catastrophic harm.
‘We all have a duty to implement the result of the referendum.
’ Amid speculation the EU could publish fresh assurances on the controversial Irish backstop on Monday, the Guardian reported that Brussels is preparing to delay Brexit until July – a claim disputed by a Commission source.
Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood became the latest frontbencher to threaten to resign if the UK leaves the EU without a deal – and said he expected ‘many’ more to follow suit.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour: ‘I would not stay in office, I would stand in front of that no-deal juggernaut.
‘It would be an irresponsible act of self-harm and from security reasons alone it would be damaging our international reputation as well. No deal for me is simply not plausible.
’ It came as four Tory Brexiteers announced their support for Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement, despite suggestions they could vote against it.
Backbenchers Sir Edward Leigh, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Andrew Murrison and Caroline Johnson expressed reservations at backing the deal, but each said they had come to the conclusion to support it.
Sir Geoffrey told Westminster Hour it was a ‘thoroughly bad deal’ though said he was ‘fearful’ that a coalition in the Commons would find a way to prevent the UK leaving the EU altogether.
He predicted Mrs May was still facing defeat, but said: ‘I think I decided that she needs to come within a reasonable amount of support in the House in order to persuade our Brussels colleagues that they have got to give us some clarification on the timetable of leaving the backstop.
‘If she loses by a very large amount I think they’ll simply say to themselves; ‘well look, the House of Commons is basically against this proposal, why should we give the Prime Minister any help’?
’ His comments follow reports of a plot to change Commons rules to enable backbench motions to take precedence over Government business if Mrs May’s deal falls – which could threaten Brexit legislation and the Government’s ability to govern.
Elsewhere, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn warned the Prime Minister that he would trigger a vote of no confidence in her Government ‘soon’, as he hinted that Article 50 may have to be extended if his party came into power.
‘Clearly if Theresa May’s deal is voted down, clearly if a general election takes place and a Labour government comes in – an election would take place February, March time – clearly there’s only a few weeks between that and the leave date, there would have to be time for those negotiations,’ he told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show.