UK Prime Minister Theresa May has called on British lawmakers to “come together” and vote her Brexit deal through, following months of uncertainty and division.
“I am convinced that the time to define ourselves by how we voted in 2016 must now end,” May wrote in a Britain’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper, referring to the country’s referendum on membership of the EU.
“We can only put those old labels aside if we stand together as democrats and patriots, pragmatically making the honourable compromises necessary to heal division and move forward.”
In the article, May argued her deal “honours the result of the referendum, addresses the hopes and fears of all sides, and is the very best deal negotiable with the EU.”
She said its rejection by MPs, who have twice voted it down by a massive margin, had opened up “a range of undesirable alternatives,” including the risk that the UK could crash out of the EU without a deal.
“Voting against no deal does not of itself change the legal reality that, as things stand, a failure to agree a deal ultimately means we leave without one,” the Prime Minister cautioned, adding that without an agreement “the way ahead is one of uncertainty and ongoing, perhaps permanent, division.”
One rebel Conservative MP, Esther McVey – who resigned from May’s Cabinet in order to vote against the government on Brexit – said Sunday she would now support the PM’s deal.
“Theresa May – the government and Parliament – connived to take ‘No deal’ off the table,” McVey told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, meaning that the choice MPs face is now May’s deal or “no Brexit.”
But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn insisted his party would not back it. “We’re not supporting Theresa May’s deal at all because it’s a blindfold Brexit,” he told Sophy Ridge on Sunday.
May needs to persuade about 75 lawmakers to change their minds in order to get her deal through Parliament when she tries for a third time.
The PM has warned that a longer delay to Brexit will be required if MPs reject her deal again. That would mean the UK has to take part in elections to the European Parliament in May, and to continue paying in to the EU budget.
The threat of an extended delay to the UK’s departure could help focus minds among Brexit-supporting lawmakers, including the 10 Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) members who prop up her ruling Conservative Party.
May also hopes that her Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox, can give further reassurances on the most contentious part of the deal, the so-called Irish backstop.
There is no prospect of the EU agreeing to any changes to the deal.
CNN’s Tara John contributed to this report.