Brexit delay bid from northern Lincolnshire Tory MP

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 26 Feb 2019

A northern Lincolnshire Tory MP wants Theresa May to hold a vote on delaying Brexit if she cannot secure a deal before the March cut-off date.

Brigg MP Andrew Percy is spearheading a campaign in Parliament for MPs to be given a say on postponing Britain’s exit from the European Union to prevent a no-deal scenario.

The backbencher is a lead member of the Brexit Delivery Group, a 100-strong band of Conservative Party remain and leave voting MPs who want to see an “orderly” exit from the EU in time for the current deadline of March 29.

Mr Percy last week wrote to the Government chief whip, Julian Smith, to warn that “numerous” MPs from his group were preparing to vote for a cross-party amendment to legally extend the Brexit deadline and avoid no-deal – a move advocated for by Labour’s Yvette Cooper and senior Tory Oliver Letwin.

The support for the Cooper-Letwin amendment has grown, especially after Mrs May confirmed on Sunday, February 24, a second vote on her deal would not take place this week and extended the deadline for MPs to have their say to March 12 – only two-and-a-half weeks before Brexit day.

Andrew Percy MP: Brexit delay would 'dishonour referendum'

Cabinet ministers Amber Rudd, David Gauke and Greg Clark have voiced their support for the amendment, penning an open letter to Mrs May informing her they were planning to back the cross-party plan to block no-deal. Jeremy Corbyn has announced Labour Party MPs will be asked to back the Cooper amendment once again — an instruction Grimsby MP Melanie Onn refused to follow last time round.

Speaking before the Cooper amendment was voted on previously last month, Mr Percy had said northern MPs representing leave seats who backed delaying Brexit would "dishonour the referendum result".

Read more: Brexit chaos in Government revealed in MP letters to Hull businessman

Since then, the Humber politician Mr Percy and remain voting MP Simon Hart have put down an amendment that would demand the Government call a vote on extending Article 50 if Parliament has not approved a deal by March 13.

The extension would be strictly limited until May 23 — the day of the European Parliament election.

Andrew Percy MP and leaders of the Brexit Delivery Group pictured during a meeting in Parliament (Image: BBC Panorama)

The Percy-Hart amendment is technically non-binding but Downing Street might well prefer its terms to the Cooper-Letwin amendment, which would effectively wrestle control of Brexit away from Number 10 through the creation of a new law.

Mr Percy’s amendment is designed to give Tory MPs who are worried about the impact of a no-deal Brexit an alternative to rally behind – including those in his own group and rebellious Cabinet ministers.

Read more: The impact Brexit is having on EU citizens coming to work in North East Lincolnshire

Mr Hart told fellow Tories in an email: “It would be strictly time limited, unlike Letwin-Cooper. And the Government would remain in control.”

In Mr Percy’s letter to the chief whip last week, which was copied in to Downing Street, the Brigg representative said MPs were keen to act now.

Theresa May has said MPs will vote on her deal by March 12 - less than three weeks before the Brexit deadline (Image: UK Parliament / Mark Duffy)

“Numerous members of our group have alerted us to their intention to get behind amendments that are planned in the name of Oliver Letwin and others and which will have the twin effect of taking no deal off the table and delaying Brexit,” said Mr Percy and Mr Hart.

“We wanted to alert you to the unease within our group and the way in which threats to next week’s vote is pushing some members towards options which they have previously opposed but feel they have no option now but to consider.”

Brexit talks are set to continue in Brussels this week as Britain works with EU officials on securing a change to the Northern Irish backstop which would satisfy Tory Eurosceptics and the DUP.

The drawn out Brexit negotiations was one of the main causes last week for 11 MPs – eight Labour and three Tories – resigning the whip to set-up The Independent Group, a pro-second referendum splinter from the two main parties.

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