What happens next on Brexit? MPs from East Anglia consider options
MPs from across the region are still trying to work out what will happen next on Brexit as Prime Minister Theresa May started at whistle-stop tour of European capitals after pulling Tuesday’s vote in the House of Commons.
Most Tory MPs in the region seem to be backing her decision to delay the vote on the Brexit treaty – a vote the Prime Minister accepted she was bound to lose – but there is still no clarity about what is likely to happen next.
South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge is a government loyalist on Brexit – he backed the Remain campaign during the referendum but accepted the result and has been pushing for a negotiated deal.
He said: “Over the weekend I had two meetings in the constituency, an open meeting and a meeting for party members only. It was quite clear having spoken to people that there were serious concerns about the treaty – and it was clear it would not get through the House.
“I spoke to my colleagues and the whips and told them that. I can see that the Prime Minister’s decision can look rather defensive, but I don’t think she had any alternative.”
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He said there now needed to be more talks with European leaders and backbench MPs to try to find a deal that could get through the House of Commons before the end of January.
Ipswich Labour MP Sandy Martin felt the decision to pull the vote showed the weakness of the government – and Mrs May’s position as Prime Minister.
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He was struggling to see what benefit there could be from a delay – because he did not think Mrs May could come up with any deal that was acceptable to Parliament and to the EU negotiators.
He said: “If Theresa May had spoken to Labour at the start of her Premiership and come up with a programme for withdrawal with support from all parties then we would not be in this situation.
“During the war, Churchill worked fully with the Labour Party in a national government – but there has been no suggestion of that happening in this crisis.”
Meanwhile Mrs May flew to Holland, Germany and Belgium on Tuesday in a bid to seek more concessions from EU leaders – but the indications were that they are unlikely to make enough changes to the proposed withdrawal treaty to satisfy her backbench critics or the Democratic Unionist Party whose votes are needed to support the government.