Theresa May’s aides are increasingly concerned that Tuesday’s vote on her Brexit deal could result in an even worse humiliation than she endured in a similar vote in January, the Sunday Times reported. The majority against the government then was 230, the biggest defeat for a prime minister in more than a century.
“It’s bloody bad,” the Times cited one of her aides as saying. “We are at Defcon 2.”
In theory, should Parliament reject her deal, it would then be offered a vote the following day on whether to take the prospect of a no-deal Brexit off the table. The Times said that second vote could be canceled.
May’s failure to move the needle on the negotiations with Brussels over the backstop accord has prompted senior members in the hardcore Brexiteer wing of her Conservative Party to suggest she’d only get her deal passed if she offers to resign by June. That would pave the wave for a new PM to lead the next phase of talks with the European Union.
Allies of the main contenders to replace her, including former foreign minister Boris Johnson and his successor Jeremy Hunt, were said to be ready to move quickly.
In a further sign that May’s team is growing increasingly desperate with less than three weeks to go before Britain tumbles out of the bloc, the Observer reported that the minister in charge of Brexit has held talks with the opposition Labour Party about what to do assuming May’s deal gets clattered in Parliament.
Stephen Barclay’s meeting with Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson suggests the government could consider an amendment that would call on MPs to back May’s deal on the condition she then agrees to a new referendum. The newspaper cited a Downing Street official that May is wholly opposed to a second public vote.
Meantime, a poll commissioned by a pro-Leave group and published in the Telegraph suggested that more British voters want the U.K. to leave without a deal if the EU doesn’t make any more concessions. The number has risen to 44 percent from 38 percent in a similar poll in January.