Majority of Brexit experts believe Theresa May will get her deal through Commons, poll reveals

Exclusive: MPs likely to feel their choices are the prime minister's agreement or no-deal, leading academics say 

Thursday 14 February 2019 19:59
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Theresa May making a statement on Brexit in the House of Commons
Theresa May making a statement on Brexit in the House of Commons

The majority of the country’s Brexit experts believe Theresa May will get her deal through the House of Commons, a new poll seen by The Independent reveals.

The Brexit policy panel, a cross-disciplinary group of some of the 100 most prominent academics on the issue, were asked to forecast what would happen in the coming months as Britain prepares to leave the European Union.

A total of 60 per cent of respondents said they believed Ms May was likely to get her deal approved by MPs, the survey by The UK in a Changing Europe initiative found, a significant increase from previous polls.

Interestingly only 40 per cent of the panel believed the prime minister would be able to secure support by 29 March – the date Britain is set to the leave the European Union – indicating a significant proportion believe an extension to Article 50 might be required.

Dr Alan Wager, research associate for The UK in a Changing Europe, said the experts believe MPs will be in a position to either vote for Ms May’s proposal or risk the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.

“Our expert panel think Ms May’s withdrawal deal, which looked dead after a historic defeat, has miraculously returned to life,” Dr Wager told The Independent.

“This is because, as other options begin to fall away, for many MPs it remains the least worst outcome.

“Unless the House of Commons is willing to vote to take the process out of the government’s hands, it is increasingly likely to be faced with a simple choice: Theresa May’s deal, or no deal at all.”

MPs have launched separate bids to stop the prime minister running down the clock on Brexit in an attempt to give parliament control of what should happen if no exit deal is in place by the end of the month.

A cross-party group of backbenchers has already tabled a motion that would force the government to call a vote in mid-March on whether the UK should leave the EU without a deal.

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Ms May suffered an embarrassing defeat over Brexit on a shambolic day for the government in the House of Commons on Thursday.

Eurosceptic Conservatives refused to back a motion reiterating support for the prime minister’s negotiating strategy, fearing she might try and use it to rule out a no-deal Brexit.

In response to the defeat a Downing Street spokesperson said: “Jeremy Corbyn yet again put partisan considerations ahead of the national interest – and yet again, by voting against the government’s motion, he is in effect voting to make no deal more likely.

“While we didn’t secure the support of the Commons this evening, the prime minister continues to believe, and the debate itself indicated, that far from objecting to securing changes to the backstop that will allow us to leave with a deal, there was a concern from some Conservative colleagues about taking no deal off the table at this stage.

“The motion on 29 January remains the only one the House of Commons has passed expressing what it does want – and that is legally binding changes to address concerns about the backstop. The government will continue to pursue this with the EU to ensure we leave on time on 29 March.”

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