UK Politics: MPs must back deal or lose Brexit, says Hunt
This week's vote on Theresa May's agreement could be among the last chances to guarantee Brexit. The Tradefair team brings you the latest from UK politics...
"We have an opportunity now to leave on March 29th, or shortly thereafter. And it's very important that we grasp that opportunity because there is wind in the sails of people trying to stop Brexit,"
- Jeremy Hunt, foreign secretary
Tory Brexiteers must back prime minister Theresa May's deal in a crucial vote this week or risk the UK not leaving the EU at all, foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has warned.
He described opponents of Brexit as having "wind in the sails", stating that it would be devastating for the Conservatives if they did not manage to deliver it.
Tuesday's crucial vote
Mr Hunt's comments come ahead of Tuesday's (March 12) vote in parliament, when MPs will be asked to come down on one side or other of the prime minister's proposals. The last time such a question was put to the Commons in January they rejected Mrs May's deal.
According to John McDonnell of Labour, the prime minister has not managed to secure enough changes from the EU, so he predicted it would be voted down once again.
The UK is still due to leave the EU at the end of this month, but the terms of the withdrawal are far from confirmed. If Mrs May's deal is rejected again on Tuesday, MPs will then vote on whether to leave without a deal.
If a no-deal Brexit is voted down then the only option left will be to delay the date of leaving the EU until more answers can be found.
Still no clarity on the backstop
The main sticking point in the vote in January for many Conservatives was the question of the Irish backstop between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. There have been few signs of progress over the insurance policy since the last vote, so it is unclear if anything has changed.
Aiming for another referendum
Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show, Mr Hunt said the aim of some MPs was to kill the deal in a bid to delay Brexit and trigger another referendum on the issue.
He said: "We are in very perilous waters, and people who want to make sure that we really do deliver this result need to remember that if it fails... they are going to say: 'There was a party that promised to deliver Brexit, we put them into No 10 and they failed', and the consequences for us as a party, would be devastating.
"We have an opportunity now to leave on March 29th, or shortly thereafter. And it's very important that we grasp that opportunity because there is wind in the sails of people trying to stop Brexit."
If Mrs May's withdrawal agreement is passed by parliament on Tuesday, then March 29th will signal the beginning of a transition period. During this time, talks will be undertaken to establish a comprehensive trade deal.
If such a deal was not agreed during the transition period, then the controversial backstop would come into force. It's designed to ensure an open border can be maintained on the island of Ireland at all costs.
A delay to Brexit could be good for the pound
Experts predict that the pound will struggle if Mrs May's agreement is voted down again, due to the uncertainty it would cause. If a move towards delaying comes about, this could actually shore up the currency and add to the gains its made so far this year.
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