By Charlie Kimber
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Desperate May scrambles to offer cash for EU votes

This article is over 5 years, 4 months old
Issue 2644
Theresa May is trying to buy MPs votes
Theresa May is trying to buy MPs’ votes (Pic: Flickr/Tiocfaidh ár lá 1916)

Desperate Theresa May offered “left behind” towns in England a £1.6 billion funding bribe on Monday.

It was part of a package of measures designed to win support for her Brexit deal among Labour MPs.

But some Labour MPs criticised the approach and said the cash would do little to tackle the effects of austerity.

They included Labour’s Lisa Nandy and Gareth Snell, who were elected from the areas targeted and have indicated they might back May’s deal.

Snell said that the £212 million earmarked for the whole of the West Midlands region “is less than the total amount that Stoke city council has had to cut from its budget in the last nine years because of austerity”.

It’s a disgrace that the Tories claim to be friends of areas they have devastated.

There was flicker of hope for May at the weekend. Some of her Tory opponents seemed to soften their approach for fear of losing Brexit altogether.

They have been unnerved by the prospect of a ­postponement of the leaving date or even a second referendum.

Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 committee of ­backbench Tory MPs, wrote in the Mail on Sunday newspaper, “When the right compromise is offered, we should pull together behind the prime minister and help her to deliver our exit from the European Union on 29 March.”


But to have any hope May has to deliver major changes to the Irish backstop that could see Britain as part of a European Union (EU) ­customs union indefinitely.

Reports at the start of the week said that the EU and the Irish government were not making concessions to the British. Attorney general Geoffrey Cox has apparently abandoned efforts to get a definite date for the ­backstop to end. Cox is looking for a formula that would allow him to change his previous legal advice that the backstop could “endure indefinitely”.

Unfortunately Labour is increasingly fixated on some form of second referendum.

It should be mobilising in the streets and workplaces to force a general election and an anti-austerity, anti-racist Brexit.

The push for a second referendum enables May to falsely pose as the defender of democracy and feeds the accusations of “betrayal”.

The expected timetable after a series of votes last week

12 March: A vote on May’s latest version of the deal that was rejected by 230 votes in January.

13 March: If May’s deal is not passed there will then be a vote on whether to accept a no-deal Brexit.

14 March: If no-deal is rejected there will then be a vote on whether to apply for what May has called a “short, limited extension” of the Article 50 process to leave the EU. This would mean pushing back the present leaving date of 29 March.

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