Theresa May: MPs' vote not enough to kill threat of no-deal Brexit
Theresa May has told MPs that their vote against a no-deal Brexit on Tuesday night does not kill off the prospect of the UK crashing out of the EU, despite Jeremy Corbyn insisting it should mean she takes the option off the table.
Corbyn is due to meet May in her Commons office at 3pm, hours after the pair’s exchange at prime minister’s questions, where the Labour leader repeatedly pressed May on what alternative arrangements to the Irish backstop she intended to secure.
May said it was clear the house wanted to leave with a deal but said the Labour leader was risking leaving without a deal by not supporting what was on offer. “He has opposed every move by this government to get a deal. He is the one risking no deal,” she said.
The prime minister said an amendment that was passed rejecting no deal, authored by the Conservative Caroline Spelman and Labour’s Jack Dromey, would not be enough to prevent it happening.
“Last night, the house did vote to reject no deal. But that cannot be the end of the story. You can’t just vote to reject no deal. You have to vote for a deal. Otherwise you leave with no deal,” she said.
“So far, he has opposed everything this government has put forward in relation to a deal. He said previously he would reject any deal the government puts on the table.”
Corbyn said he wanted to reach a Brexit deal that would protect jobs, which meant the prime minister moving on her red lines, including on a customs union.
“We are the House of Commons, we represent the entire country, and the point I’m making is we should bring people together whether they voted leave or remain,” he said.
“I look forward to meeting the prime minister to discuss a solution that could unite the country. Changes to the backstop alone will not be sufficient. Businesses and trade unions are very clear that any solution must involve a customs union and a strongest possible deal with the single market.”
On Tuesday night, a government-backed amendment by the Tory backbencher Sir Graham Brady that proposed “alternative arrangements” to the Irish backstop won the support of Brexiters and delivered May a majority that the prime minister said she would use to make the case to Europe.
In response to repeated questions from Corbyn, May said she was looking at a number of options to materially change the withdrawal agreement.
“The political declaration already references alternative arrangements and raises a number of proposals that can be addressed such as mutual recognition of trusted trader schemes,” she said.
“What has been absolutely clear in my contacts with European leaders is that they want a deal. What this house voted for last night was to leave with a deal. But it also crucially showed what it will take see support in this house for a deal in the future. It shows we can have a sustainable majority in this house.”