THERESA MAY WARNS OF ‘UNCHARTED TERRITORY’ IF MPS REJECT HER DEAL

Next week’s vote would “definitely” go ahead, she told the BBC, as she promised new safeguards for Northern Ireland and to look at giving MPs more say in shaping future EU negotiations. The UK’s March exit was “in danger” if MPs did not back the deal, she said. But one Tory Brexiteer said support for leaving without a deal was “hardening”. And one senior Labour figure said she believed a general election may be inevitable “within months” if there was deadlock in Parliament and Mrs May could not get her deal through. Asked by the BBC’s Andrew Marr if the vote would “definitely” go ahead in the second week of January, she replied “yes, we are going to hold the vote”. She said she truly believed hers was a “good deal” for the country and that it was up to its opponents to spell out the alternatives to it. “If the deal is not voted on, then we are going to be in uncharted territory,” she said. “I don’t think anyone can say what will happen in terms of the reaction we see in Parliament. – BBC News

THERESA MAY IS STOKING APOCALYPTIC FEARS ABOUT NO-DEAL BREXIT TO WIN OVER HER REBELS, SAYS FORMER TRADE SECRETARY LORD LILLEY

Theresa May has been accused by senior Tories of trying to scare MPs into backing her EU Withdrawal Agreement with an “apocalyptic” vision of what would happen in a no deal Brexit. In a report aimed at debunking “myths” about leaving the EU on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms, Lord Lilley, the former trade secretary, said the Government was trying to “play up the supposed horrors” of leaving the EU ahead of this month’s Parliamentary vote on the deal. – Telegraph (£)

Lord Lilley – knighted by the PM last year – said Government was being “extraordinarily irresponsible and self-contradictory” in a staggering attack backed by Eurosceptic backbenchers. It came as Theresa May spoke with European Commission chief Jean Claude Juncker in a desperate bid to prize concessions out of Brussels ahead of a crunch vote on her Brexit deal on January 15th. Ex-Tory party leader Iain Duncan Smith warned attitudes against the PM’s deal on the backbenches had “hardened” over the Christmas break – and that the chances of a No Deal were now “more than 50 per cent”. And in a report designed to downplay the fears of a No Deal, Lord Lilley blasted Government for spreading scare stories that helped “Brexit opposing media” to “demonise” the idea of leaving the EU without a deal in place. The former Trade Secretary said that resorting to WTO terms after March 29 should be seen as a “safe haven” for business and consumers alike while negotiations over a free trade deal with Brussels continue. – The Sun

Theresa May's on The Andrew Marr ShowTORY BREXITEERS CONCLUDE ‘NO DEAL WOULD BE OKAY’ AS MAY FAILS TO CHANGE MINDS

Theresa May has been told “nothing has changed” despite the prime minister beginning a fresh New Year bid to deliver her Brexit deal. Tory MPs opposed to Mrs May’s deal told Sky News on Sunday they had heard nothing to prompt them to change their minds. One Brexiteer suggested MPs attitudes had recently “hardened” towards a belief leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement would be “absolutely okay”. And the DUP, who prop up the minority Conservative government at Westminster, signalled their opposition to the deal had not weakened. Having pulled a pre-Christmas vote on her deal due to the prospect of a significant defeat, Mrs May insisted the vote will now “definitely” go ahead in mid-January. – Sky News

200 MPS CALL ON THERESA MAY TO RULE OUT NO DEAL

More than 200 MPs from different political parties have signed a letter to Theresa May, urging her to rule out a no-deal Brexit. The MPs – including both Leave and Remain supporters – have been invited to meet the prime minister on Tuesday. Tory ex-cabinet minister Dame Caroline Spelman, who organised the letter with Labour MP Jack Dromey, said a no-deal Brexit would cause job losses. It comes ahead of a crucial Parliament vote on whether to back Mrs May’s deal. Dame Caroline Spelman – who was environment secretary for two years when David Cameron was prime minister – told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour programme that 209 MPs had signed the letter. She said: “Crashing out of the EU without a deal will cause job losses and bring to an end the renaissance of manufacturing that we’ve seen in regions like mine in the West Midlands, and both Jack Dromey and I know the human interest and impact of this.” Asked if the prime minister “gets it”, Dame Caroline said: “Yes, I definitely think she gets it. She wouldn’t have invited us to come in and see her if she didn’t.” Dame Caroline said the signatories to her letter included Brexit and Remain supporters – but the letter did not bind them to supporting the PM’s withdrawal deal. – BBC News

PARLIAMENTARY RULES WILL STOP THERESA MAY STAGING REPEAT VOTES TO FORCE HER DEAL THROUGH

Parliamentary rules will stop Theresa MayParliamentary rules will prevent Theresa May bulldozing her Brexit deal through by staging multiple repeat votes until the Commons surrenders, MPs believe. The tactic – increasingly seen as the prime minister’s only hope of rescuing her unpopular agreement – is explicitly barred by procedures to stop the government bullying the legislature, they say. Even if Ms May tries to evade the rules by changing a few words of the motion put before MPs, it would be ruled out of order if it is “the same, in substance, as a question that has been decided”, the rules say. The crucial hurdle emerged after the prime minister refused several times to rule out bringing back the vote “again and again and again” if, as expected, she loses heavily next week. With the Commons deadlocked on what should happen next, she is expected to use the looming threat of a no-deal Brexit, now just 81 days away, to pile pressure on MPs to back down. “I’ve consulted with the clerks of the House of Commons on this,” he told Sky News. “You cannot simply bring the same motion again and again and again – you cannot do that. And – even if you sought to bring a different motion through changing one word – if, in substance, it’s the same thing, under the rules of the House of Commons you can’t keep bringing it.” – Independent

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