March 10 (UPI) — British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Sunday that Conservative Members of Parliament should vote in favor of Theresa May’s Brexit deal or risk jeopardizing the exit from the European Union.
Ahead of Tuesday’s so-called meaningful vote on May’s Brexit deal with the E.U., Hunt warned that some MPs are seeking to shut down the deal in order to delay Britain’s departure, which could reflect poorly on the ruling Conservative party.
“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,” he said.
Former Brexit secretary David Davis said May should continue to steer Britain toward leaving the E.U. even if her deal is rejected, or “Britain will get its Trump moment.”
“What happens is the British people who voted for this … will see a government walking away, a parliament walking away from a question that they themselves put to the people,” said Davis. “That will absolutely undermine belief in democracy in this country.”
At the center of the conflict is a “backstop” plan to maintain an open border on the island of Ireland, which some MPs fear may leave Britain tied to the E.U. indefinitely.
May attempted to have the E.U. resolve the concerns about the backstop in order to make the deal likely to pass, but made little progress.
“It looks as though she’s bringing back the same deal so it looks as though we will have the same result and it will be thrown out,” Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said.
Hunt also suggested Brexit would have to be delayed if the deal is passed and the Labor party’s shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said delaying the withdrawal for three months is “probably doable.”
“This is now necessary because of the position we find ourselves in,” Starmer said.
If Tuesday’s meaningful vote to approve May’s current Brexit deal fails, a vote will be held on Wednesday to determine if Britain should leave the E.U. without a deal. If that vote fails, the government will vote Thursday on whether to delay the planned withdrawal by extending Article 50, at which point May would be required to request an extension from the E.U.
“We have an opportunity now to leave on March 29, 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,” said Hunt.