UK: Theresa May faces ‘meaningful vote’ on her Brexit deal
The so-called “meaningful vote” will take place later as five days of debate on Brexit come to an end.
Mrs May has called for politicians to back her deal or risk “letting the British people down”.
But with many of her own MPs expected to join opposition parties to vote against the deal, it is widely expected to be defeated.
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox will open the last day of debate at about 12:50 GMT, with Mrs May due to close the debate with a speech from about 18:30 GMT.
Voting will start at about 19:00 GMT, starting with backbench amendments that could reshape the deal and then the vote on the withdrawal agreement itself.
The prime minister addressed her backbench MPs on Monday evening in a final attempt to win support for her deal – which includes both the withdrawal agreement on the terms on which the UK leaves the EU and a political declaration for the future relationship.
In the Commons, she said: “It is not perfect but when the history books are written, people will look at the decision of this House and ask, ‘Did we deliver on the country’s vote to leave the EU, did we safeguard our economy, security or union, or did we let the British people down?'”
Mrs May also tried to reassure MPs over the controversial Northern Irish “backstop” – the fallback plan to avoid any return to physical border checks between the country and Ireland.
She pointed to new written assurances from the EU that the contingency customs arrangement being proposed would be temporary and, if triggered, would last for “the shortest possible period”.
Mrs May will address her cabinet on Tuesday morning, before the debate resumes at lunchtime.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that rejecting Mrs May’s deal would lead to a no-deal Brexit with short term economic damage “or worse, no Brexit at all”.
He said with this deal “we’ve picked a whole bowl of glistening cherries”, despite the fact the EU had said at the beginning of negotiations that there would be no “cherry picking”.
“If we don’t vote for this agreement then we risk playing into the hands of those who do not want Brexit to go ahead,” he said.
But many Tory MPs and the Democratic Unionists remain adamantly opposed to the deal.
About 100 Conservative MPs – and the Democratic Unionist Party’s 10 MPs – could join Labour and the other opposition parties to vote it down.
Former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab said that Brexiteers like him could back a deal if aspects such as the backstop were dealt with.
He told the Today programme the EU had played “a smart game of hard ball” and said it was time for the UK to do the same.
The deal suffered a heavy defeat in the House of Lords on Monday night, as peers backed a Labour motion by 321 votes to 152.
While the vote carries no real weight, as peers accepted MPs should have the final say, the motion – which also rejected a “no deal” scenario – expressed “regret” that Mrs May’s deal would “damage the future economic prosperity, internal security and global influence” of the UK.
However, five Conservative Brexiteer MPs who have been critics of the withdrawal agreement have now said they will support the government, along with three Labour backbenchers and independent Frank Field.
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay said it showed there had been “progress” but admitted to the BBC’s Politics Live that gaining support was “challenging”.
A number of amendments to Mrs May’s deal have been put forward by MPs to try to make changes to it in Parliament.
Proposals include giving MPs a vote on whether to implement the backstopand putting a time limit on how long the backstop could last.
Labour MP Hilary Benn had planned an amendment to reject the deal and prevent no deal – but has since told BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith that he has withdrawn his proposal.
Mr Benn told the Today programme that he wanted there to be a “clear, single vote” on Mrs May’s deal, so that there was “clarity” on why it was being rejected.
When asked what the margin of defeat could be for Mrs May, former Downing Street director of legislative affairs Nikki da Costa told Today she expected it to be within the “50 to 80 mark”.
The Commons Speaker, John Bercow, will decide which amendments can go forward to be voted on just before the vote on the deal itself.