May to Bring Brexit Deal for Fourth Vote, Tories Fear EU Election Carnage

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - MARCH 21: British Prime Minister Theresa May departs after speaking to the media at the end of the first of a two-day summit of European Union leaders on March 21, 2019 in Brussels, Belgium. Leaders will discuss May's request for an extension of the deadline for the …
Sean Gallup/Getty

Prime Minister Theresa May is reportedly planning to bring her Withdrawal Agreement Bill to the House of Commons for a fourth vote in the next two weeks.

Downing Street sources speaking to The Times have indicated that a motivation to bring the vote forward so soon is in reaction to the May 23rd European Parliament elections, where the Tories are set to perform badly. The deal has to be passed this month if the prime minister wants to stop newly-elected MEPs from taking their seats in the EU parliament, with the Brexit Party likely to win over Conservative voters in droves.

It is also believed that focus on a fourth vote would detract from the multiple challenges Mrs May is facing to her leadership, with Tory MP Andrea Jenkyns calling for the prime minister to step down just yesterday, a looming grassroots confidence vote, and a number of attempts by her backbenchers in the 1922 Committee to change party rules to make it easier to force her out.

The prime minister has discussed the plan with senior Conservative Party figures, according to the Financial Times, with the chairman of the 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady saying, “My understanding is the government’s intention is to bring forward the bill for its second reading before the European elections take place.”

She is also expected to meet with the 1922 to discuss her departure, though Mrs May has maintained that she will not resign until Brexit is delivered, with a Downing Street source telling The Times the prime minister had told backbenchers that “she would see through phase one of the Brexit process and she would leave and open up for new leadership for phase two. That’s the timetable she is working towards. She wants to get Brexit done.”

After Theresa May’s EU-approved treated was voted down for a third time in March, she opened up negotiations with the Opposition, hoping to pass her bill with Labour votes after Tory Brexiteers continue to reject it, and moved to delay Brexit once more to October 31st.

However, discussions have not been fruitful, with the FT reporting a Labour source as describing talks as being on their ‘last legs.’

If the deal is not passed in the next month, the newly-elected Members of European Parliament will be taking their seats in Strasbourg and Brussels in July, and UK parliamentary rules state the bill cannot be brought back again during this session.

Party insiders are concerned that the EU election could spell massive defeat for the Tories, with some in the Conservative Party headquarters (CCHQ) fearing they will poll “less than 10 per cent,” with one source telling the FT, “We could come in behind the Brexit party, Labour, Liberal Democrats and even the Greens and Change UK.”

In the latest polling by YouGov, Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party is in the lead with 30 per cent, first while the Tories languish in third place on less than half that figure, on 13 per cent.

Voters made their assessment of Mrs May’s handling of Brexit known in last week’s local elections, when the Tory party lost more than 1,300 seats and a number of Britons spoiling their ballots, marking them with “Brexit Party,” “Brexit,” and calls for May to resign.


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