Brexit in peril if PM May's deal is rejected: foreign minister Hunt

Travelers queue at St Pancras International train station in London as Eurotunnel trains were suspended on Tuesday Oct. 18 2016

On Friday, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said that if the UK decides to hold a second referendum, Brexit may never take place, thus the authorities would be letting the voters down.

In an interview with the Financial Times, he urged Tory MPs to back the Withdrawal Agreement anyway, saying it would enable him to start spending the "insurance fund" built up in case of a no-deal break.

"Rather than engage constructively to get a deal, bully boy Barnier and the European Union cabal are retreating to a position that Theresa May herself has claimed no UK Prime Minster could sign up to", said Sammy Wilson MP, Brexit spokesman for Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) - which supports leaving the European Union and is determined to maintain the Province's status as an integral part of the United Kingdom, in line with the wishes of most of its residents.

The mechanism, known as the backstop, is a safeguard that would keep the United Kingdom in a customs union with the other 27 EU countries in order to remove the need for checks until a permanent new trading relationship is in place.

After she spoke, Barnier announced he was ready to give Britain the unilateral right to leave the EU customs union.

In a last-ditch appeal to the European Union and to MPs at home, Mrs May said in a speech on Friday it was time to end the uncertainty over Brexit by approving the deal.

"With a very real deadline looming, now is not the time to rerun old arguments", he said.

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But despite the war of words, both sides say talks are continuing over the weekend, just days before May will face parliament once again after resoundingly losing the first vote in parliament on January 15. "The British people who voted for this - and a large number of Remainers who didn't vote for it but still think it should be carried through because they believe in democracy - will see a government, a parliament, walking away from a question that they themselves put to the people".

During Mrs May's call to arms on Friday, she warned that if MPs reject her deal then "nothing is certain".

Mrs May will hope her threat of the consequences of not supporting her deal will convince enough MPs to rally behind her. "In everything that followed there would be total uncertainty - that would be the only certainty", health minister Matt Hancock told Sky News.

May has spent the last week trying to gather support for her deal ahead of a "meaningful vote" in United Kingdom parliament next week.

The pair said that unless the Prime Minister secured changes to the deal, it would be "defeated firmly" again on Tuesday.

Both Starmer and McDonnell said there would be opportunities for amendments at subsequent votes, such as the no-deal and Article 50 extension votes that are a likelihood this week, but neither would be pinned down on exactly what amendments Labour would table - including a second referendum.

Since that defeat, May has been trying to get changes to the Irish border backstop but there's no sign of a breakthrough in the increasingly acrimonious negotiations in Brussels.

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