Prime Minister Theresa May has appealed to EU leaders for “one more push” to get her Brexit deal through Parliament but warned of a “moment of crisis” if MPs reject it.
She said the UK had tabled “serious and detailed” proposals to address the deadlock over the Irish backstop but admitted talks had been “difficult”. If the deal was voted down again, she said it could result in a softer Brexit or the UK not leaving – which would be a “political failure”.
The EU has told the UK to come forward with new ideas to break the deadlock ahead of Tuesday’s vote by MPs.
MPs will hold a second “meaningful vote” on Tuesday on Mrs May’s agreement. Downing Street said the vote would go ahead, irrespective of whether the prime minister secured the changes MPs are demanding before then.
In a speech in Lincolnshire, Mrs May said MPs faced a crucial choice next week and her deal respected the 2016 referendum result and would ensure the UK’s long-term prosperity.
“Back it and the UK will leave the EU. Reject it and no-one knows what will happen. We may not leave the EU for many months. We may leave without the protections a deal provides, we may never leave at all.”
If MPs reject the deal again, they will get to choose between leaving without a deal or deferring the UK’s exit from the EU beyond the scheduled date. Any extension to the Article 50 process, under which the UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March, would need the unanimous approval of the EU.
Two former prime ministers, Sir John Major and Gordon Brown, have called for a delay of a year to allow for a “public consultation” on the way ahead and to ensure an orderly exit.