Published: Fri, December 14, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Brexit: Leo Varadkar 'happy to offer assurances' to UK

Brexit: Leo Varadkar 'happy to offer assurances' to UK

The British prime minister survived a confidence vote in her leadership, but a full third of her own party cast ballots against her, a big blow that means she will have an nearly impossible job getting her current Brexit deal approved by Parliament.

May's victory, "means she can not be challenged for another year, closing the route to a no deal outcome via Brexiteer victory in a Conservative party leadership election and a change in government policy".

After the disastrous 2017 general election, which saw May lose her parliamentary majority, she told MPs she would stay on as leader as long as the party wanted her to.

The Prime Minister will address EU leaders at the two-day European Council.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, pro-Brexit Conservative MP, said: "I think the Prime MInister should resign".

He said he emphasised that the deal is not open for renegotiation, as a backstop is necessary for both Ireland and the European Union as a whole.

Oxford East Labour MP Anneliese Dodds said: "This is putting the interests of quite a small number of people first, who have quite extreme views, and putting them before the interests of British business, our universities and all the European Union citizens who are based here".

They say "Discussions have taken place between Labour and the DUP to see if there is any common ground there", and insist that unless the PM returns from Brussels with "major changes" to her Brexit deal, the "hostility will only increase".

May could be toppled if a simple majority of 317 Conservative MPs (members of parliament) vote against her, though a large rebellion could also leave her fatally weakened. On the otherhand they might want to wait until the meaningful vote happens and falls, then leaving Remain Tory MPs and the DUP with a choice - No Deal Brexit or a new government.

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May, who spent Tuesday touring European Union capitals to appeal for changes to sweeten her divorce deal for reluctant United Kingdom lawmakers, has until January 21 to hold a vote on the agreement in Parliament, a timetable that could be scuttled if she is replaced.

By late afternoon, the number of Conservative lawmakers who had pledged to vote for May passed the 159 votes she needs to win - although nothing is certain in a secret ballot.

The Labour leader then asked: "Since the prime minister has not achieved any changes either to the withdrawal agreement or the future partnership, can she now confirm that we will have the concluding days of debate and votes within the next seven days, before the house rises for the Christmas recess?"

"Essentially we can throw the parliamentary kitchen sink at them", said another senior Labour source, "with all the trimmings".

He also went on this morning's Today programme to argue that now is not the right time to prompt a leadership contest in the Conservative Party, with Brexit negotiations at such a crucial stage.

The win staved off what would have been an ignominious end to her time as leader - and means she can not be challenged by her own party again for 12 months.

This meant about half the people voting were effectively "in the pay of the Prime Minister in one way or another". "This means there is still some way to go before she can consider bringing her Withdrawal Agreement back to the House".

She had promised MPs she would seek "assurances" about their concerns over a so-called "backstop" plan to keep open the border with Ireland. She will now return to fighting for the Brexit withdrawal deal that has divided United Kingdom politics in recent weeks.

May needs 159 votes to win, and with the new victory, there cannot be another challenge for her for a year. She met with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to raise issues on key sticking points in the Brexit deal that British politicians are refusing to accept. "If May can not get her deal through the Commons, the crisis will intensify".

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