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May Sticks With Crucial Vote as Johnson Cites EU ‘Blackmail’

Bloomberg logoBloomberg 12/9/2018 Lucy Meakin and Kelly Gilblom

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Prime Minister Theresa May has two days to rally support for her Brexit deal as opposition stacks up against her ahead of a House of Commons vote on Tuesday. Cabinet ministers on Sunday said the vote will go ahead, denying reports suggesting that she may announce a delay.

Key Developments

DUP demands “poisonous” backstop be renegotiatedBoris Johnson decries Northern Ireland backstop ‘mess’Opposition lawmaker says the Labour Party is prepared to form a minority government as soon as Wednesday morning if neededMay can still win enough support to prevail, according to Brexit Minister Kwarteng

Johnson: U.K. Must Get Out of Backstop ‘Mess’ (10:55 a.m.)

Former foreign secretary and high-profile Brexit advocate Boris Johnson said Theresa May needs to reject the “unacceptable” agreement with the EU because it gives power to the other member states to “blackmail” the U.K. He suggested she threaten to withhold some payments to the bloc and prepare convincingly to leave with no transition on March 29.

Johnson, who refused in a BBC interview to rule out challenging May for the Conservative Party leadership, said a “great” deal is possible.

“Do not underestimate the deep sense of personal responsibility I feel for Brexit and for everything that has happened,” he said. “Do not underestimate how much I care about this because this is fundamental to the country.”

DUP Demands New Withdrawal Bill Terms (10:40 a.m.)

The deputy leader of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party -- the small group of 10 lawmakers propping up May’s Tory government -- joined calls for the prime minister to return to Brussels and negotiate new terms, and said that if the current agreement passes, she can no longer count on their support.

“No British prime minister could ever accept customs and regulatory barriers within the United Kingdom and that’s exactly what this deal does,” Nigel Dodds said on Sky News. It “would cause long term damage to the economy and to the union.”

Tory Lawmaker Warns Party Could be Split (10:35 a.m.)

The ruling Conservative risks splitting if May doesn’t come up with a better agreement, lawmaker Dominic Grieve told Sky News. While she lacks the support to pass the bill this week, he said, he finds the possibility of a “seriously appalling” no-deal outcome unlikely and thinks attempting to find a new Tory leader would be “disastrous.”

Withdrawal Bill Vote Still Set for Tuesday (10:26 a.m.)

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay says that there are no plans to change the date for the parliamentary vote on the European Union Withdrawal Bill. While he said that the government is prepared to leave the EU without a deal, he said in a BBC interview that it would be “difficult” and “undesirable,” calling on his colleagues to mitigate the risk by opting for May’s proposal.

May Has a ‘Good Shot’ of Winning Tuesday Vote (9:55 a.m.)

Brexit Minister Kwasi Kwarteng told Sky News that Theresa May could still get her deal through Parliament this week.

“In House of Commons votes, anything can happen and I think we’ve got a good shot of winning. The argument is a strong one, the deal is a strong deal.”

Labour Is Ready to Form Minority Government (9:30 a.m.)

Opposition U.K. lawmaker Jon Trickett said in a Sky News interview that his Labour Party is ready to form a minority government in the aftermath of the vote on the Brexit withdrawal bill, if needed. He said that while a second Brexit referendum was possible, a general election would be the party’s preferred choice.

“We are ready to form a minority government should that be necessary -- and it could happen on Wednesday morning -- and to begin to reset the negotiation and take the country forward in a much better direction.”

Earlier:

Theresa May Mulls Announcement on Brexit Vote Delay: Times 
Brexit Begins to Bite as Workers Turn to Voting With Their Feet
U.K. Is Always More Than Welcome to Stay in EU, Timmermans Says
Order! Order! A Minute-by-Minute Guide to U.K. Parliament Votes
Confused About Brexit? Here’s a Guide to the Endgame: QuickTake

To contact the reporters on this story: Lucy Meakin in London at lmeakin1@bloomberg.net;Kelly Gilblom in London at kgilblom@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Paul Gordon at pgordon6@bloomberg.net, Steve Geimann

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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