Theresa May delays Brexit vote in House of Commons until after Christmas

Theresa May delays Brexit vote in House of Commons until after Christmas

The Prime Minister in Brussels for a European Summit aimed at discussing the Brexit deal on Thursday.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Theresa May has delayed the House of Commons vote on her Brexit deal until the new year as she acknowledged it will take time to win the assurances she is seeking from EU leaders.

After the Prime Minister survived a no confidence vote by Conservative MPs on Wednesday, Downing Street said the "meaningful vote" on the Withdrawal Agreement would not now be brought to Parliament before Christmas.

Arriving in Brussels for an EU summit, May acknowledged she needed fresh assurances from EU leaders on the Northern Ireland backstop if the agreement was to get through the Commons.

However, she played down the prospect of an "immediate breakthrough" during the two-day gathering in the Belgian capital.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who currently holds the EU presidency, suggested there could be a special Brexit summit in January to agree "additional assurances" which could be attached to the Political Declaration on the UK's future relationship with the EU.

"The EU27 have a clear goal of ensuring an orderly Brexit. Of course we are ready to make concessions to Theresa May where possible," he said.

"It is our goal to find a settlement which works for both sides and is capable of securing a majority in both the European and British parliaments."


'Best interests of both sides' 

A Downing Street spokeswoman confirmed that it was the Government's aim to hold the vote in the Commons "as soon as possible in January".

The vote had been due to take place on Tuesday, but was delayed at the last minute as it was feared the Prime Minister would be defeated.

A no confidence vote against May was triggered following the defeat, but the Prime Minister survived the vote with 200 Conservative MPs supporting her leadership.

While May said she was "grateful" to those MPs who backed her, with more than a third of the parliamentary party calling for her to go, she accepted their concerns had to be addressed.

"My focus now is on ensuring that I can get those assurances that we need to get this deal over the line, because I genuinely believe it's in the best interests of both sides - the UK and the EU," she said.

"But I recognise the strength of concern in the House of Commons and that's what I will be pushing to colleagues today.

"I don't expect an immediate breakthrough, but what I do hope is that we can start work as quickly as possible on the assurances that are necessary."

In a last minute change to the summit arrangements, the Prime Minister was addressing the EU leaders and taking their questions on Brexit at the end of opening session on Thursday.

She will then leave while the remaining 27 discuss their response over dinner.