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Doubts expressed over revised Withdrawal Agreement Bill

24 May 2019


An anti-Brexit placard depicting Theresa May is seen near the House of Parliament on Thursday of last week

An anti-Brexit placard depicting Theresa May is seen near the House of Parliament on Thursday of last week

IT LOOKS “extremely unlikely” that Theresa May’s revised Brexit deal will be passed, the Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, has said.

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister announced a succession of promises that would be included in the new Withdrawal Agreement Bill, when it was published this week. These included an offer of a Commons vote on a second referendum if her deal passes.

Dozens of Conservative MPs have already lined up to reject the deal. They include the former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who said that it did not deliver what the people voted for. Bishop Baines said: “How many times do you have to bang your head against a wall before you realise it won’t move?”

Mrs May warned MPs that they would have “one last chance”, next month, to get Britain out of the EU with an agreement: another rejection would leave the deal “dead in the water”.

Commitments made by the Prime Minister, in an attempt to woo MPs who had previously opposed her deal, included a vote on a second referendum, a new workers’ rights Bill, and an attempt to find “alternative arrangements” to the Irish border problem.

The leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, said: “We won’t back a repackaged version of the same old deal — and it’s clear that this weak and disintegrating government is unable to deliver on its own commitments.”

Bishop Baines said: “The biggest issue is that Theresa May will go, and no one can have the assurance that whoever follows her will stick to her deal.

“We just do not know what will happen. What happens if the next leader, the next Prime Minister, has the same issues, and faces the same divisions?”

Another Conservative MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, told The Times : “I hope that the Prime Minister will look at the figures, look at the lack of support for her deal, remember that she lost the first vote by 230 and the constitutional conventions and recognise that, in truth, the Prime Minister does not command a majority in the House of Commons.”

Bishop Baines said: “Someone will probably lead us into crashing out without a deal — and they will never take responsibility for this.”

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