The government has been warned not to ignore the millions of people who signed a petition signalling they want to cancel Brexit.
The chief of the European Union’s Council says the bloc should be open to welcome Britain at the European Parliament’s May 23-26 election after accepting an extension to the Brexit deadline with Theresa May. EU council president Donald Tusk also warned MEPs not to ignore protesters who took to the streets of London to demand a second referendum last week, saying they must be represented by the EU “even if they don’t feel sufficiently represented by UK Parliament”.
As MPs in Westminster prepare to stage a series of indicative votes on Brexit, including the potential of a vote on an option to revoke Article 50 and stop Brexit, Mr Tusk criticised MEPs who told him that possible UK participation in forthcoming European elections would be “harmful or inconvenient”. He said: “Let me be clear, such thinking is unacceptable”. “You should be open to a long extension, if the UK wishes to rethink its strategy.” “Which would of course mean the UK’s participation in the EU’s parliamentary elections.”
He added: “You cannot betray the six million people who signed the petition to revoke Article 50, the one million people who marched for a People’s Vote. Or the increasing majority of people who want to remain in the EU. ‘They may not feel sufficiently represented by UK Parliament but they must feel that they are represented by you in this chamber. Because they are Europeans.”
The House of Commons is scheduled to debate the various alternatives to May’s twice rejected Brexit deal this evening. Lawmakers will then be asked to vote for all the options they would accept in order to shape a new deal.
The most popular ideas will move to a second vote on Monday in the hopes of finding one option that can command a majority. The debate comes two days after MPs took control of the parliamentary process out of the government’s hands, amid concern May was unwilling to compromise.
The Prime Minister has said she will consider the outcome of the ‘indicative votes’, though she will not be bound by the result and is yet to rule out bringing back her deal for a third meaningful vote. Earlier this week she opened the door for a second referendum, admitting her deal had ‘insufficient support’ and acknowledging some MPs are considering alternative options.
Meanwhile, Leading Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg has confirmed that he is ready to support Theresa May’s Brexit deal provided she can win over the DUP in an apparant U-turn. Rees-Mogg, chairman of the Tory European Research Group, has repeatedly slammed May’s deal and said he still doesn’t believe it’s a good deal but that he fears a ‘concerted attempt’ to stop Brexit.
“The deal is not a good deal. It doesn’t seem to me to deliver fully on the referendum”
“The deal is not a good deal. It doesn’t seem to me to deliver fully on the referendum result or on the Conservative Party manifesto. But we are seeing a concerted attempt to stop Brexit altogether,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
‘We are faced with a very unsatisfactory choice between Mrs May’s deal, where we are at least legally out, or various other plans that may conceivably keep us in, including the prospect of a long delay which, it seems to me, would be the precursor to the revocation of Article 50. ‘I think we have got to the point where legally leaving is better than not leaving at all. Half a loaf is better than no bread.’ He added: ‘I won’t abandon the DUP because I think they are the guardians of the Union of the United Kingdom.’