Brexit: May warns opponents they are running risks with economy and democracy

Theresa May
Theresa May

Theresa May said the UK faced a moment of “profound challenge” as she urged MPs to get behind her Brexit deal.

The Prime Minister warned critics from both sides of the Brexit divide that they risked damaging the economy and trust in democracy by opposing her plan.

As MPs prepare to return to Westminster with a crunch Commons vote looming on the Withdrawal Agreement thrashed out with Brussels, the Prime Minister said no alternative plan was able to respect the 2016 referendum result, protect jobs and provide certainty to citizens and businesses.

Addressing opponents on both the Remain and Brexiteer wings of the Commons, she said: “There are some in Parliament who, despite voting in favour of holding the referendum, voting in favour of triggering Article 50 and standing on manifestos committed to delivering Brexit, now want to stop us leaving by holding another referendum.

“Others across the House of Commons are so focused on their particular vision of Brexit that they risk making a perfect ideal the enemy of a good deal.

“Both groups are motivated by what they think is best for the country, but both must realise the risks they are running with our democracy and the livelihoods of our constituents.”

The Prime Minister said that the British “genius for pragmatism” had always found a way forward which commands consensus at “moments of profound challenge” such as this.

Officially slated for the week of January 14, the Commons vote is widely expected to be held on January 15.

Speaking to the Press Association in Los Angeles, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said: “Parliament needs to understand that if we’re not able to come to Parliament and get a deal, then we may end up leaving the EU with no deal.

“Most people seem to say that’s not what they want to see, well they better make up their minds before we get to a week on Tuesday because that’s going to be a very key decision-making point.”

In a Mail on Sunday article, Mrs May said Labour’s approach under Jeremy Corbyn had been based on a “cynical tissue of incoherence, designed to avoid difficult decisions”.

The Prime Minister was forced to postpone a vote on her plans in December after it became clear the deal would be rejected by MPs.

With Tory rebels and her DUP allies expected to oppose it, the Prime Minister hopes to win round some Labour MPs alarmed at the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.

“MPs of every party will face the same question when the division bell rings,” Mrs May said.

“It is a question of profound significance for our democracy and for our constituents.

“The only way to both honour the result of the referendum and protect jobs and security is by backing the deal that is on the table.”

Meanwhile, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said he was “confident” that medicine supplies would be “unhindered” in a no-deal scenario - as long as the pharmaceutical industry took action.

Asked if he could guarantee that no one would die as a result of a no-deal Brexit, Mr Hancock told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “I’m confident that we will have the unhindered supply of medicines so long as the plans that we have in place are properly enacted.”

Prominent Brexiteer Peter Bone said a no-deal scenario was the only way to guarantee the UK actually leaves the EU.

He told Sky News that the Christmas recess will not have changed any minds, and if anything it will have “hardened attitudes of MPs to what is called a no-deal Brexit”.

Mr Bone said constituents are telling their MPs to “get on with it”, adding: “There was no question that I remember on the referendum about a deal or not. It was leave or remain, and the way you leave is to come out on March 29.”