Update 16.40pm: British Prime Minister Theresa May said her Withdrawal Agreement Bill will include a vote by MPs on whether to hold a second referendum.

The Withdrawal Agreement Bill will go to the Commons in early June, with defeat likely to hasten Mrs May’s departure as the UK’s Prime Minister.

“I recognise the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue.

“The Government will therefore include in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at introduction a requirement to vote on whether to hold a second referendum and this must take place before the Withdrawal Agreement can be ratified.”

Mrs May warned this was the last chance to avoid “a nightmare future of permanently polarised politics” and her deal would be guaranteed to last for “at least this Parliament”.

She said: “If MPs vote against the second reading of this Bill they are voting to stop Brexit.

“If they do so the consequences could hardly be greater – reject this deal and leaving the EU with a negotiated deal any time soon will be dead in the water and what would we do then?

“… If not no-deal then it would have to be a general election or a second referendum that could lead to revocation and no Brexit at all.”

As she ended the speech, Mrs May said: “This is a huge opportunity for the United Kingdom.

“Out of the EU. Out of ever-closer union. Free to do things differently. And doing so in a way that protects jobs, protects our security, maintains a close relationship with our friends and works for the whole United Kingdom.

“It is practical. It is responsible. It is deliverable. And right now, it is slipping away from us. We risk losing a great opportunity.”

Latest: Theresa May says new Brexit deal ‘listened to Unionist concerns’ about backstop

Update 4.20pm: British Prime Minister Theresa May has said there is “one last chance” to help MPs deliver the result of the 2016 referendum, as she offered a “new Brexit deal”.

Mrs May is outlining her latest plan to push her Withdrawal Agreement through Britain’s Parliament on the fourth attempt and see the UK achieve Brexit.

The speech follows a UK Cabinet meeting where two hours was spent discussing the Brexit plan, with Mrs May’s spokesman acknowledging there were “strong opinions” around the table but also a “determination” to get a deal through Parliament.

The Withdrawal Agreement Bill will go to the Commons in early June, with defeat likely to hasten Mrs May’s departure from Number 10.

Mrs May began her speech just after 4pm, recounting her efforts over the past two years to achieve Brexit.

Mrs May said the new Brexit deal will seek to conclude alternative arrangements for the Irish backstop by December 2020.

She said: “Although it’s not possible for (alternative arrangements) to replace the backstop in the Withdrawal Agreement, we can start the work now to ensure they are a viable alternative.

So as part of the new Brexit deal we will place the Government under a legal obligation to seek to conclude alternative arrangements by December 2020 so that we can avoid any need for the backstop coming into force.

Mrs May said: “The new Brexit deal will set out in law that the House of Commons would approve the UK’s objectives for the negotiations on our future relations with the EU.

“And they will approve the treaties governing that relationship before the Government signs them.”

Mrs May said her new Brexit deal had “listened to Unionist concerns” about the backstop.

“So the new Brexit deal goes further,” she said. “It will commit that should the backstop come into force the Government will commit to ensure that Great Britain will stay aligned with Northern Ireland.

“We will prohibit the proposal that a future government could split Northern Ireland off from the UK’s customs territory.”


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