By Tony O'Riley And Ben Kerrigan-
Britain may be heading for a Brexit disaster if Mps reject Theresa May final deal.
It is clear that the new deal, believed to have minimum if any real changes in it is heading for a total defeat when votes are cast at 7pm tonight. Protesters have been gathering outside Westminster where they are preparing to express their deep anger over delays to agree a deal following a marginal vote for Britain to leave the EU in 2016.
Following a defeat in the commons tonight, Article 50 will be delayed, extending the official departure date of Brexit. This will be bad news for Brexitiers who are desperate to see Britain finally leave the EU. Anti EU campaigners will see a defeat tonight as another sign that leaving the EU was a poor decision, and the calls for another referendum will only get louder. Downing Street are strictly against any idea of another vote, and will continue to tough it out if tonight’s deal is voted down.
The issues holding up an agreement on the deal expected to be rejected tonight still surround legal issues surrounding the Irish backstop. The British government’s official position in the motion laid before parliament, that the new assurances merely reduce the risk the UK could be held in the backstop indefinitely, but do not eliminate it has left several Mps and the DUP more determined to reject the deal in tonight’s vote.
Environmental Secretary, Michael Gove, said the EU had made clear that the backstop is intended to be temporary , but this has not provided any assurances to Mps. Intentions are not necessary legally binding , except in the content of statutory provisions that are clear,.
. Many Mps and politicians are anxious to get a Brexit deal over and done with to move forward, but a majority of Mps appear determined to reject the deal. Some views are changing as time goes on, because there are a number of Mps that are not prepared to agree to a deal that leaves Britain in a legally vulnerable position.
Cox had previously said in previous legal advice said the backstop “would endure indefinitely until a superseding agreement takes its place in whole or in part”.
In revised advice published on Tuesday morning, Cox said the risk of the UK being stuck in the backstop had “reduced”, but concluded: “The legal risk remains unchanged that … the United Kingdom would have, at least while the fundamental circumstances remained the same, no internationally lawful means of exiting the protocol’s arrangements, save by agreement.”
The shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, a former director of public prosecutions, had already released his own legal assessment on Tuesday morning. Starmer’s advice said: “The withdrawal agreement does not include a mechanism for unilateral exit from – or termination of – the backstop (or any other part of the agreement) even where bad faith is made out.
“Turning the content of the 14 January letter from Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker into a joint interpretative declaration does not change that. Nor in my view does anything else agreed last night.”