Theresa May enters one of the most tumultuous weeks of her turbulent premiership as the U.K. Parliament prepares to decide the fate of her Brexit deal, and possibly her tenure as prime minister.
With her agreement facing almost certain defeat in a House of Commons vote on Tuesday, May will make an 11th-hour appeal with a warning that there’s now more chance of members of Parliament blocking Brexit than of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal.
“What if we found ourselves in a situation where Parliament tried to take the U.K. out of the EU in opposition to a remain vote? People’s faith in the democratic process and their politicians would suffer catastrophic harm,” May will say in a speech in Stoke-on-Trent on Monday, according to extracts released by her office. “We all have a duty to implement the result of the referendum.”
Her choice of Stoke is significant. The city in central England, 135 miles (217 kilometers) north of Parliament in London and once the heart of the global pottery industry, voted more emphatically to leave the EU than anywhere else in the U.K. in the 2016 referendum.
May’s warning comes after the Sunday Times reported that some lawmakers are planning to seize control of the legislative agenda from the government in an act that would allow Parliament to extend the March 29 Brexit deadline or even overturn the decision to leave the EU.
A senior government official on Sunday described the plan as extremely concerning, since if it succeeds lawmakers would gain control over not just Brexit legislation but all legislation.
May has 24 hours to save a deal with the EU that’s taken almost two years to negotiate, but the task looks virtually hopeless. The premier appears no closer to getting the backing she needs than she was in December when the vote was dramatically pulled before it could be rejected. The question now is what she should do next.
A defeat would leave Britain on course to leave the EU with no new trading arrangements in place. According to the Bank of England analysis, such a chaotic split could hammer the pound and home prices, and plunge Britain into a recession worse than the financial crisis a decade ago.