Theresa May to give MPs ‘multiple choice’ option over Brexit strategy

Theresa May to give MPs ‘multiple choice’ option over Brexit asking them to rank options for an exit strategy in bid to push her deal through Parliament

  • MPs will vote on Mrs May’s deal for a fourth and final time in the week of June 3
  • In a bid to secure a majority Mrs May is considering giving them indicative votes
  • They would rank their preferred option on future EU relationship from one to four
  • Cross-party Brexit talks collapsed yesterday with both sides blaming the other

Theresa May is said to be mulling giving MPs a multiple choice vote on the kind of future relationship the UK should have with the EU in order to get her Brexit deal through Parliament next month. 

The proposal would use a preferential vote system under which MPs would rank different options in order of preference.

The government is considering holding the series of ‘indicative votes’ before MPs vote for the fourth and final time on her Brexit deal in the week beginning June 3.   

In a bid to secure a majority Mrs May is considering giving MPs multiple choice votes on their preferred future relationship with the EU 

It is unclear whether any path will be able to command a majority. 

The Prime Minister is running out of options after cross-party Brexit talks with Labour collapsed yesterday, hours after Mrs May agreed to set out in early June a timetable for her departure. 

Both sides blamed each other for their failure to reach a consensus. 

Meanwhile the Prime Minister is said to have created a ‘bucket list’ of policy announcements for her final weeks in the job in an attempt to salvage her legacy.

Mrs May is expected to make a series of interventions on paternity rights, student funding, technology and social housing.

As she delivered a televised message to voters ahead of the European Parliament elections, Mrs May said: ‘When we come to bring the legislation forward we will think carefully about… the outcome of these talks.

The Prime Minister (pictured in Bristol campaigning for the EU elections) has blamed Labour as Brexit talks officially collapsed

‘We will also consider whether we have some votes to see if the ideas that have come through command a majority in the House of Commons.’ 

Jeremy Corbyn said Labour would oppose Mrs May’s deal when it returns to parliament, but that Labour would look at any proposal from the government concerning the indicative votes. 

‘This is a novel process which we will obviously look at whenever it comes to parliament,’ he said. 

Jeremy Corbyn said it was hard to have Brexit talks with a Government in disarray and pulled the plug on any deal

The plan, disclosed in a memo leaked to the Evening Standard, will infuriate Labour’s second referendum supporters because it reveals that a new EU vote was not included as a Brexit alternative and would be voted on separately. 

MPs will instead be given four forms of customs arrangement with the EU and asked to rank them in order of preference. 

One of the options on the table is a full and permanent union, another is a union for goods only, and a third is for a looser temporary plan lasting until the next general election.

The plan with the fewest votes would be eliminated and second preferences reallocated. 

Another free vote for MPs would ask them to simply choose yes or no on the questin of whether the deal should be subject to a second referendum. 

Mrs May has agreed to set out in early June a timetable for her departure as Prime Minister 

A Labour source confirmed that the document was genuine but was presented to the party by the Government and they did not agree to any of it.  

The Brexit talks between the Tories and Labour imploded after 42 days, with the Labour leader writing to the Prime Minister to say they have ‘gone as far as they can’ due to ‘the increasing weakness and instability’ of her premiership.

Mr Corbyn said with a Tory leadership battle now weeks away he has no ‘confidence’ in the ‘Government’s ability to deliver any compromise agreement’.

Hinting that any deal would be torn up he added: ‘The Prime Minister has announced the date she’s leaving, there have been increasing noises off stage by Conservative Cabinet ministers and others who don’t agree with much of the talks or any of the discussions we are holding, so we are concluding the talks’.

Mr Corbyn also blamed Liam Fox for the impasse, saying the Trade Secretary insisted that importing chlorinated chicken from the US after Brexit had to remain ‘on the table’.

Responding to Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to end Brexit talks, Theresa May said: ‘We have not been able to overcome the fact that there is not a common position in Labour about whether they want to deliver Brexit or hold a second referendum which could reverse it.’

As talks broke up today an ugly war of words started a No 10 source said Labour’s chief negotiator Sir Keir Starmer’s push for a second referendum was the biggest sticking point in the talks.

Downing Street insiders claimed splits within the Labour ranks – particularly on the issue of a second referendum – had made it harder to reach an agreement, with shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer singled out for his ‘strident’ views.

Sir Keir has publicly stated that a deal would be unlikely to pass without it being subject to a public vote.  

Blame game after 6 weeks of Brexit talks end in failure   

by Jason Groves Political Editor for the Daily mail

Cross-party Brexit talks collapsed amid acrimony yesterday as Downing Street said senior Labour figures were not serious about leaving the EU.

Jeremy Corbyn yesterday pulled the plug after six weeks, saying it was impossible to negotiate with a government that had become ‘ever more unstable and its authority eroded’.

The Labour leader said the prospect of a new Brexiteer Tory leader raised serious questions about ‘the Government’s ability to deliver on any compromise agreement’.

But Downing Street hit back last night, blaming the ‘strident views’ of Labour Brexit spokesman Sir Keir Starmer, who has demanded a second referendum as the price of any deal.

May plans policy blitz for last days 

By Jack Doyle for the Daily Mail

Theresa May has drawn up a ‘bucket list’ of policy announcements for her final weeks as Prime Minister.

In an attempt to salvage her legacy, Mrs May is expected to make a series of interventions on paternity rights, student funding, technology and social housing.

Allies said she would return to the theme of tackling ‘burning injustices’ in British society that the Prime Minister set out when she came to office in July 2016.

A source said: ‘She’s going, we all know she’s going. But there are some things she still wants to do that feed back to the steps of Downing Street. She wants to focus on social justice and social mobility and getting the country ready for the future.’

Mrs May is expected to stand aside as Tory leader before the end of July to allow the contest to find her successor to begin.

Business leaders reacted with dismay saying the talks had taken up ‘six wasted weeks’ and there was now an increased risk of a No Deal Brexit.

The CBI employers’ group last night called for Parliament to cancel the coming 11-day Whitsun recess to focus on thrashing out a deal.

Sources said the failure could leave MPs facing the ‘very unpalatable’ choice of either No Deal or no Brexit if Parliament refuses to back Mrs May’s deal for a fourth time when it returns to the Commons next month.

Irish leader Leo Varadkar described the failure of the talks as ‘a very serious development and a very negative development, unfortunately’.

Mrs May yesterday said the issue raised fundamental questions about whether the Labour leadership wanted to leave the EU at all.

Speaking in Bristol during her only campaign event for next week’s European Parliament elections, she said: ‘We have not been able to overcome the fact there is not a common position in Labour about whether they want to deliver Brexit or hold a second referendum which could reverse it.’

Mr Corbyn entered the talks in April on the understanding that any cross-party deal would not automatically be subject to a second referendum.

But Sir Keir, seen as a potential leadership rival, made a public pitch for a ‘confirmatory vote’ involving a second referendum if a deal was struck.

A senior minister said the Labour leader had been ‘outmanoeuvred’ by Sir Keir and deputy leader Tom Watson. ‘To be fair to Corbyn and his team they were serious about a deal,’ the minister said.

‘But Starmer never wanted it to work – he was more interested in trying to ingratiate himself with Labour members who want to stop Brexit. It doesn’t take a genius to work out why – he wants to be leader.’ A Labour source suggested the blame for the talks’ collapse lay with Eurosceptic Tories who had criticised the decision to negotiate with Mr Corbyn.

CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn said that it was ‘another day of failed politics, another dispiriting day for British business – six wasted weeks while uncertainty paralyses our economy’.


How will the dramatic Brexit endgame play out?  

Britain is facing another tumultuous spell as politicians desperately try to find a way through the Brexit crisis.

Theresa May is facing the imminent end of her premiership after Tory MPs said she must set a schedule for her departure early next month.

That will trigger a potentially brutal Conservative leadership contest, with Boris Johnson, Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt among the contenders. 

But before that the PM will have one more desperate try at getting her Brexit deal through the House of Commons – in the same week that US President Donald Trump makes a potentially stormy visit to the UK. 

Here is how the drama could play out over the next few months. 

May 23 – European elections 

Mrs May never wanted the European elections to take place on May 23, having originally planned that the UK would be out of the EU by the end of March.

And the vote is set to show why she hoped to avoid them – with the Tories on course for a drubbing at the hands of Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party.

The picture is also likely to be grim for Labour when the results emerge on Sunday 26 and Bank Holiday Monday, as both main parties pay the price for years of chaos and inaction since the referendum in 2016.  

In an effort to limit the fallout, the government has sent MPs off on a long half-term break immediately after the election. However, keeping Tory politicians away from Westminster will not be enough to save the PM from a massive backlash. 

The Tories on course for a European elections drubbing at the hands of Nigel Farage (pictured campaigning in Brentwood this week) and his new Brexit Party.

June – Withdrawal Agreement Bill, Trump visit

Mrs May has pledged to bring the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill – the legislation known as WAB that would implement her deal – before the Commons for a crucial vote in the week of June 3.

The promise succeeded in buying her a few more weeks grace from an increasingly restive Cabinet and Tory MPs. 

But the failure of talks with Labour on a compromise deal, along with stubborn opposition from Brexiteers and the DUP, mean she now has little hope of winning the vote. 

If the situation was not fraught enough, the PM must also contend with the arrival of Donald Trump for a long-awaited and controversial three-day State Visit from June 3-5. The leaders are pictured together at Chequers last July

A defeat would be the fourth time her deal with the EU has been rejected by MPs – and Brexit Secretary Steven Barclay has admitted the package would then be ‘dead’. 

If the situation was not fraught enough, the PM must also contend with the arrival of Mr Trump for a long-awaited and controversial three-day State Visit. He has not been shy of voicing his disapproval for her Brexit deal, and is widely expected to throw some grenades into the debate.  

The powerful Tory 1922 committee has told Mrs May that even if by some miracle the Commons vote on WAB is won, she must still immediately set out the timetable for handing over to another leader. 

June-July – Tory leadership contest 

The battle to succeed Mrs May as Tory leader should formally kick off early in June.

Under the process, MPs will whittle what looks to be a crowded field of candidates down to two – with ordinary Conservative members voting to decide the victor.

Mr Johnson is considered the front runner to take the top job, but historically such contests have thrown up surprises. 

Party chiefs hope that the first stage can be completed within a few weeks. The run-off could then either be rushed through in July, or take place over the summer parliamentary recess.

Boris Johnson (pictured at a business conference in Manchester this week) is considered the front runner to succeed Mrs May, but historically Tory contests have thrown up surprises

September 29-October 2 – Conservative Party conference 

The Tory gathering in Manchester this autumn will be the natural time for a new leader to take the stage and try to unite the fractured party.

Assuming no way has been found to force a Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament by this point, they will need to spell out how they intend to approach the Brexit process.

Victory for a harder-line Brexiteer such as Mr Johnson could see the party vow to leave the EU in a matter of weeks, with or without a deal. 

They will also need to consider whether such a policy can be pushed through the Commons with the current batch of MPs – or whether a general election or another referendum has become unavoidable. 

October 31 – the new Brexit date

The Brexit extension Mrs May thrashed out with the EU expires on October 31.

Unless another postponement can be agreed, the UK is still scheduled to leave the bloc at this point.

MPs have previously shown a willingness to do anything possible to avoid crashing out of the EU without a deal.

However, the calculation for many Tory MPs might be changed by the mounting threat from the Brexit Party.

With EU leaders such as France’s Emmanuel Macron increasingly frustrated by the Brexit limbo, the Commons could be forced into a straight choice between revoking Article 50 – which would cancel the process altogether – or no-deal Brexit.  


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