/Theresa May was asked 10 times what her back-up plan is if the Brexit vote fails – and still didn’t answer – iNews

Theresa May was asked 10 times what her back-up plan is if the Brexit vote fails – and still didn’t answer – iNews

Theresa May was asked more than ten times in an interview about what would happen if she could not get the support needed to pass her Brexit deal through Parliament but refused to give a definitive answer.

During the 25 minute grilling on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, the Prime Minister, who has developed a reputation for being particularly apt at avoiding questions, refused to confirm or deny whether she would consider delaying the crucial vote on Tuesday.

Despite being asked several times about whether pushing the vote back until she could get more support from MPs would be a possibility, she responded just to reiterate that MPs were focusing on debating the proposed deal.

Plan B?

And when repeatedly pressed by presenter John Humphrys on what her “plan B” would consist of, if the deal were voted down, she responded with noncommittal comments on the fact that MPs had the choice between her deal, no deal or no Brexit.

In total the interviewer asked her multiple times about how she planned to deal with the likely prospect that MPs would reject her current proposals on offer, but Mrs May avoided the topic.

The Prime Minister is facing a constitutional crisis after her Government was defeated three times on the first day  of the five-day Brexit debate. 

Backstop backlash

One of these defeats meant that she and her ministers were found in contempt of Parliament over its refusal to publish legal advice on the implications of the Northern Irish backstop arrangement – an integral part of the deal proposed by Mrs May.

The publication of the legal advice, which warned that the UK could be stuck in a cycle of repeated negotiations unable to legally withdraw, did nothing for the popularity of the deal but Mrs May appears intent to press ahead with the planned meaningful vote regardless.

The backstop, intended to prevent the return of a hard border in Northern Ireland, is highly controversial as Brexiteer MPs claim it traps the UK into obeying rules set by Brussels without a say over them.

Not listening to MPs

She was accused by Mr Humphreys of “not listening” to concerns and “repeating the same mantra”. She responded by insisting that she had reached a “good deal” with Brussels that “delivers on the referendum”.

She said the question of whether she had a plan B was “not for me, that question is for those who say that they want to oppose this deal”.

Theresa May is facing opposition in the Commons (PA)

Mrs May would not say what she had planned as a back-up if, by next week, the Commons was still casting her deal in an unfavourable light.

But she did hint that Parliament could be given the power to choose whether it would trigger the backstop or, instead, extent the transition period after the UK formally quits the EU.

Mrs May said: “There will be a choice between, if we get to that point, a choice between going into the backstop and extending the transition period.”

What did May say… or not say?

Strike 1:

John Humprys: I read this morning that many of your cabinet ministers or at least some of them are saying that we must delay the vote, is there anything in that?

Theresa May: We are in the middle of five days of debate which will lead up to a vote on this issue.

Strike 2:

JH: Let’s go back to my original question, is there any possibility, have you even considered, has it been recommended to that you one way or another delay the vote that is happening next Tuesday evening?

TM: No no what we are doing at the moment John –

Strike 3:

JH: I know what you are doing I am just wondering if it is possible you might delay it?

TM: What I am doing is leading up to a vote on Tuesday because we are having a debate … yes I am meeting colleagues and listing to colleagues concerns –

JH: About this particular issue about delaying it?

TM: – no not about delaying it I am listening to colleges’ concerns about this issue which is the backstop.

Strike 4:

JH: Parliament has basically said that if you fail then Parliament takes over

TM: No [pause] there have been some attempts to take off the table certain possibilities but actually there are three options here: one is to leave the EU with a deal – I have negotiated a deal, the EU have made it clear it’s the deal, but it’s not just the deal it’s a good deal and it’s a deal that delivers on the referendum-

Strike 5:

JH: – And the problem with that is that you haven’t sold it to Parliament?

TM: I said there were three options and you’ve only let me talk about one of them. The other two is that we leave without a deal or that we have no Brexit at all and I am absolutely clear that we have a duty to deliver on the will of the British people in 2016.

JH: The problem with that is that you have been unable thus far to sell it to Parliament or at least to enough MPs to carry it on Tuesday evening.

TM: When it comes to that vote, I think what MPs will be thinking of, as I say there are three options to be thinking of…

Strike 6:

JH: Can you, should you, are you thinking of giving them a separate vote on the backstop? Is that feasible?

TM: The backstop is an integral part of the Withdrawal Agreement.

JH: So you can’t separate it?

TM: As I said earlier, the backstop is an integral part of the withdrawal agreement but the backstop would be an integral part of any Withdrawal Agreement that was negotiated with the EU.

Strike 7:

JH: The problem is you have not been able, and I have said this before in this interview, you have not been able to persuade enough of your colleagues in Parliament that it is the right deal therefore it is highly likely that on Tuesday night it will be voted down. Do you have any sort of Plan B if that happens?

TM: As I have already explained there are three options for people to look at. And actually I think that question is not for me that question is for those who say that they want to oppose this deal.

Strike 8:

JH: You’re saying back me or sack me in effect then aren’t you?

TM: No that question is for those who want to oppose this deal because the options are there – there is a deal, no deal or Brexit.

Strike 9:

JH: The problem is that is where people disagree with you. You have heard all of these points made over and over again and it seems to some people that you are simply not listening. […] Let me frame that question a different way, you must have given a great deal of thought to what happens in the end if you cannot get your deal through Parliament. Have you give a lot of thought to that and give us a clue to what it might be, what the Plan B might be?

TM: John what I am focused on is the deal we have negotiated with the EU which does deliver on the referendum, it does it in a way that protects jobs and protects our security for the future.

Strike 10:

JH: If, on Tuesday night – many people would say when, as I repeat, Parliament says no to you, parliament including many very senior distinguished members of your own party, you are going to say back to them well I am sorry that’s it it has to be a hard brexit. You won’t settle for another referendum so it has to be a hard brexit. Is that what you are actually saying to them after all this time?

TM: John what I am saying is that we are in the middle of the debate about this vote. I am listening to colleagues about their concerns around the backstop.

JH: They say you just keep repeating the same mantra.

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