Speaking in London on Tuesday Theresa May announced details of a plan, which Cabinet agreed support for following a three-hour meeting, in front of a backdrop featuring the slogan “Seeking common ground in Parliament”.
She said MPs will vote in parliament on whether to hold a second referendum, despite her belief that the 2016 vote should continue to be honoured.
She said: “I recognise the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue.
“The Government will therefore include in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at introduction a requirement to vote on whether to hold a second referendum and this must take place before the Withdrawal Agreement can be ratified.”
“If MPs vote against the second reading of this bill they are voting to stop Brexit.”
She continued to press at the need for political collaboration, and appealed to her party to come together, noting had 30 MPs voted differently her previous deal would have been successful.
However, despite her appeal some Conservative MPs took to Twitter to voice their disgust before the speech was over.
MP Simon Clarke tweeted: “So if we pass the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at 2nd reading, we allow a Remain Parliament to insist upon a 2nd referendum and a Customs Union? This is *outrageous*.”
Mrs May said the new Brexit deal will seek to conclude alternative arrangements for the Irish backstop by December 2020.
She said: “Although it’s not possible for (alternative arrangements) to replace the backstop in the Withdrawal Agreement, we can start the work now to ensure they are a viable alternative.
“So as part of the new Brexit deal we will place the Government under a legal obligation to seek to conclude alternative arrangements by December 2020 so that we can avoid any need for the backstop coming into force.”
Mrs May said: “The new Brexit deal will set out in law that the House of Commons would approve the UK’s objectives for the negotiations on our future relations with the EU.
“And they will approve the treaties governing that relationship before the Government signs them.”
Mrs May said her new Brexit deal had “listened to Unionist concerns” about the backstop.
“So the new Brexit deal goes further,” she said. “It will commit that should the backstop come into force the Government will commit to ensure that Great Britain will stay aligned with Northern Ireland.
“We will prohibit the proposal that a future government could split Northern Ireland off from the UK’s customs territory.”
“The new Brexit deal will offer new safeguards to ensure these standards are always met,” said Mrs May as she announced a new workers rights bill.
There will be a new office of environmental protection, and place a legal duty on the government to seek a “frictionless” trade agreement with the EU – should the bill be approved.
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