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Theresa May pleads with MPs to back Brexit deal and let Britain 'turn corner' in new year

MPs return to parliament next week with debate on the Brexit deal due to start on 9 January before a vote the following week

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Monday 31 December 2018 23:35 GMT
Theresa May pleads with MPs to back Brexit deal and let Britain 'turn corner' in new year message

Theresa May has made a new year plea for MPs to back her Brexit deal, arguing that Britain will be able to “turn a corner” in 2019 if they support her.

The prime minister used her New Year’s Day message to put pressure on politicians who have vowed to oppose her plans in a crunch vote expected in the first two weeks of January.

But even as she did, her DUP partners in government warned that unless there were significant changes to her plans they would vote against them.

MPs return to parliament next week, with debate on the Brexit deal due to start on 9 January before a “meaningful vote” the following week.

In her recorded message, Ms May said that while the 2016 referendum was “divisive” there was a chance to make 2019 “the year we put our differences aside and move forward together”.

She added: “New Year is a time to look ahead and in 2019 the UK will start a new chapter.

“The Brexit deal I have negotiated delivers on the vote of the British people and in the next few weeks, MPs will have an important decision to make.

“If Parliament backs a deal, Britain can turn a corner.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's New Year's message

Ms May said settling the deal would allow time and energy to be spent on areas such as housing, trade, the NHS, immigration reform and the environment.

But Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster used her own new year message to warn Ms May she will need substantial alterations to her withdrawal agreement if the Northern Irish party are to back it.

Mrs Foster, whose party is in a confidence and supply arrangement with the Conservative government, said: “The prime minister has promised to get changes to the legally binding withdrawal agreement.

“We will be holding her to that commitment and we will work with the government to achieve a better deal.

“We are very mindful that any deal will bind the hands of future governments and prime ministers therefore the legal text must be watertight for the United Kingdom.”

Jeremy Corbyn used his new year message to accuse Theresa May’s government of plunging the country into crisis by making a “mess” of Brexit.

The Labour leader said the prime minister’s efforts to force through her withdrawal agreement in a crunch Commons vote next month were “letting people down all across the country, whether they voted Leave or Remain”.

In the message, released on social media on Monday morning, he said the UK was full of talent that was being held back by the economic system and Conservative rule.

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