'New Brexit deal' including referendum vote falls flat

A ‘new Brexit deal’ including an offer of an MPs’ vote on holding a referendum looks unlikely to succeed after it was widely rejected by British MPs, panned in the UK media and failed to impress campaign groups for Britons in the EU.

Even some Conservative MPs who previously voted for the negotiated Brexit deal have attacked the ‘new deal’ and EU sources have reportedly said it contains platitudes and restatements of previously rejected ideas, despite Mrs May having promised it would be ‘bold’ and ‘serious’.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn meanwhile said: “We won’t back a repackaged version of the same old deal.”

British in Europe coalition vice chair Fiona Godrey said: “It was much ado about nothing and we are still facing a no-deal Brexit on October 31 as the default scenario.

“We urgently need a grown-up in the room but they are all AWOL.”

Brexpats: Hear Our Voice founder Debbie Williams said the Prime Minister’s announcements left the group's members feeling “underwhelmed”.

The so-called ‘new deal’ relates to proposed changes to the ‘future relationship’ part of the Brexit deal (which the UK government would have to seek to have agreed by the EU), since the main Withdrawal Agreement on citizens’ rights, the Northern Ireland border and the financial settlement can no longer be opened up, the EU has repeatedly said.

In a speech last night Mrs May outlined a 10-point plan for what would she proposes to pursue if MPs vote through a Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) that is set to be presented to Parliament this week and to have a second reading debate in the first week of June.

Unlike the previous times that the negotiated Brexit deal has been rejected by the British MPs, this would not consist of a ‘meaningful vote’ to approve or reject the negotiated deal itself but is rather a British bill that would be need to be passed in order for the deal’s provisions to be put into force in the UK. It may contain a clause saying a separate ‘meaningful vote’ approving the negotiated deal is no longer required.

In a speech last night Mrs May said she had listened carefully to those who have been calling for another referendum.

She said she does not believe the UK should hold a referendum, as it should be implementing the result of the first one, however she said “I recognise the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue”.

She said she would therefore include in the WAB a requirement for an MPs' vote on whether or not to hold a referendum, which must be held before the Withdrawal Agreement can be ratified.

“So to those MPs who want a second referendum to confirm the deal: you need a deal and therefore a Withdrawal Agreement Bill to make it happen.

“So let it have its Second Reading and then make your case to Parliament.”

She did not specify what choices such a referendum would include.

Along with the referendum vote proposal, the ‘new deal’ includes matters such as promises that workers’ rights and environmental protections would not be worse in the UK than the EU after Brexit and that the UK will seek “as close to frictionless trade in goods with the EU as possible” and a “customs compromise”.

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