May’s Brexit Deal Set to Be Defeated by 100 Votes, Peers Back Customs Union

SHARM EL SHEIKH, EGYPT - FEBRUARY 25: British Prime Minister Theresa May delivers her final press conference at the end of the Arab-European Summit on February 25, 2019 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Leaders from European and Arab nations are meeting for the two-day summit to discuss topics including security, …
Dan Kitwood/Getty

Government sources believe that Prime Minister Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement could lose by 100 votes, whilst unelected peers in the House of Lords have voted in favour of Brexit Britain staying in a customs union with the EU.

Mrs May was defeated by a record majority of 230 when her Brexit deal was voted on in January, and one Cabinet minister allegedly told The Telegraph that it seems “certain” the Prime Minister will lose the second vote on Tuesday by a margin of up to 100 which would leave her in “serious difficulty.”

It is expected that the Conservative Party leader will make a major speech on Friday to ask for support from her MPs ahead of the vote.

In a bid to stop Remainer ministers from resigning en masse, Mrs May agreed last week to a set of concessions which could result in ruling out a clean, “No Deal” Brexit or a delay to exiting the EU.

Should Mrs May loses her second “meaningful vote” on the Withdrawal Agreement on the 12th of March, the House of Commons will then be asked to vote on the following day, Wednesday, whether to take No Deal off the table — a move Brexiteers maintain will weaken London’s negotiating hand with Brussels even further.

In the likely event that the Europhile-dominated Commons rules out a clean Brexit, they will be asked on Thursday whether to extend Article 50.

However, Government sources have told the newspaper that in face of another defeat it is “not impossible” that Downing Street could hold a third vote, particularly if Mrs May loses the second by a majority of less than 60. A third vote would likely be held the week beginning the 18th of March — 11 days before Brexit Day.

Mrs May received backing from her colleagues to seek legal assurances from Brussels that the controversial “backstop” only be temporary in order to make her deal acceptable to lawmakers in the second vote.

However, Britain’s Attorney General Geoffrey Cox returned from Brussels on Wednesday telling media that negotiations with the European Union had been “difficult” and “no solution has been identified to that is consistent with the Withdrawal Agreement, including the Northern Ireland protocol which, as you know, will not be reopened.”

The Government then announced that it had established three advisory joint UK-EU groups to find a solution to the backstop, with a spokesman for the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) telling Reuters, “There is clear support for finding alternative arrangements to ensure there is no hard border on the island of Ireland.”

Also on Wednesday peers in the unelected House of Lords vetoed the Government’s Trade Bill, 207-141, calling for the House of Commons to back the United Kingdom joining an EU customs union after Brexit.

Mrs May’s Government will now have to convince the lower house of Parliament to overturn the Lords’ decision.

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