Can Brexit be stopped?

Theresa May warns that blocked EU exit is more likely than no-deal scenario

Anti-Brexit demonstrators in London
Anti-Brexit demonstrators in London 
(Image credit: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images)

Prime Minister Theresa May is to warn that Parliament is more likely to block Brexit than allow the UK to leave the European Union without a deal.

Around 100 of her own Tory MPs, along with the Democratic Unionist Party’s ten MPs, Labour and other opposition parties, are expected to vote against May’s deal in Tuesday’s key Commons vote.

In a speech to factory workers in Stoke-on-Trent today, the PM will warn that “people’s faith in the democratic process and their politicians would suffer catastrophic harm” if the result of the referendum is not implemented.

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“There are some in Westminster who would wish to delay or even stop Brexit and who will use every device available to them to do so,” she will say.

But can Brexit really be stopped?

What happens next?

Following further debates today on Brexit, MPs will take part in a “meaningful vote” tomorrow, with “No. 10 braced for a defeat by an unprecedented majority of more than 200”, reports The Daily Telegraph.

May then has three working days to come up with a so-called plan B. She is likely to go straight to Brussels to ask for further concessions from the EU ahead of another vote on a back-up plan next week, says the BBC.

The UK is due to leave the EU on Friday 29 March, unless MPs vote to delay or cancel Brexit.

How could Brexit be cancelled?

Remainer MPs will “raise the stakes” today by publishing draft legislation to force a second referendum, says the Telegraph. They want voters to be given the choice between May’s deal or staying in the EU.

“The draft law could in theory be tabled as early as Monday next week,” says the newspaper, but adds that this would require Speaker John Bercow to “suspend centuries-old rules and make it easier for MPs to table laws that can be passed”.

The Remainers would also need to table new legislation to abandon the 29 March deadline.

Meanwhile, if May suffers a heavy defeat tomorrow, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is expected to table an immediate vote of no confidence in her government in a bid to force a general election.

Labour’s current policy is to renegotiate a new Brexit deal, but Corbyn has signalled that this is not set in stone.

Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show yesterday, he did not rule out backing a second referendum nor opposing Brexit altogether, saying he would listen to the views of union chiefs, party officials and senior Labour MPs to decide the party’s next manifesto content.

What does the public want?

The latest poll for The Independent, by BMG Research, found that a new referendum was the most popular path if May’s deal is rejected. Of more than 1,500 respondents, 46% favoured a second referendum, 28% were against and 26% did not know. The potential option of remaining in the EU was backed by 45%, with 39% opposed to reversing Brexit and 16% saying they did not know.

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