The prime minister’s Brexit deal will be “dead” if the withdrawal bill does not pass in the Commons in June, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay has said.
Mr Barclay said the bill – which paves the way for Brexit – will be considered by MPs in the week beginning 3 June.
He said if the plan is rejected by MPs, the UK will face no deal, or Article 50 could be revoked – so no Brexit.
But Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesman has said Labour would not support the bill if no cross-party agreement were reached.
Attempts to find a cross-party compromise began after Theresa May’s Brexit deal, the withdrawal agreement that was negotiated with the EU, was rejected three times by MPs.
Asked twice whether she would resign if her Brexit plan is rejected again by MPs, Mrs May said the withdrawal bill will “ensure that we deliver Brexit for the public”.
The PM said she was sure that MPs “will be thinking of the duty that we have to deliver Brexit” when deciding whether to support the bill.
Government sources have told the BBC that there would not be a further attempt if the plan is rejected.
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The vote – which will take place when MPs return from half-term recess – would bring the withdrawal agreement into UK law via the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.
Speaking to the Lords’ European Union Select Committee, Mr Barclay said the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) will be published “as soon as possible”.
He said: “I think if the House of Commons does not approve the WAB, then the Barnier deal is dead in that form and I think the House will have to then address a much more fundamental question between whether it will pursue… a no-deal option or whether it will revoke.”
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said MPs will have to decide “if they want to vote for Brexit or not”.
Bringing the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill forward would allow the prime minister to push ahead with her ambition of delivering Brexit before the summer – despite the lack of agreement so far in the cross-party talks, said BBC political correspondent Iain Watson.
Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesman said that unless there was an agreement based on “real compromise and movement by the government” then the bill would be “based on the same botched Brexit deal that has been rejected three times already by Parliament”.
It’s not exactly the same thumbs up or thumbs down that another meaningful vote would be. That is a straightforward yes or no to the divorce deal that the prime minister negotiated with the EU.
This time, it will be the Withdrawal Bill which is a whole tome of new laws that will be needed to take us out of the European Union.
The draft of that bill is still being kept under wraps. Very, very few people have seen it. It’s much more detailed than just a vote on the agreement would be.
Of course, that gives people more things to object to.
Although Theresa May might have pleaded in cabinet that people on all sides have to move away from absolutism, and move to a mood of compromise, there’s not much sign of it.
As and when that bill actually emerges, that may well – in the words of one cabinet minister – make things worse before they can get better.
Brexiteer and Conservative MP Steve Baker said bringing the bill forward “over the heads” of DUP MPs – on whom the government relies for a majority – would “eradicate the government’s majority”.
“What is the government thinking?” he asked.
DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds said: “If the prime minister brings the withdrawal bill to the Commons for a vote, the question will be, ‘What has changed?’.
“Unless she can demonstrate something new that addresses the problem of the backstop, then it is highly likely her deal will go down to defeat once again.”
The backstop is the controversial part of the withdrawal deal that aims to ensure an open border on the island of Ireland if the UK leaves the EU without securing an all-encompassing deal.
What is the Withdrawal Agreement Bill?
The UK needs to pass a law to implement the withdrawal agreement – the part of the PM’s Brexit deal which will take the country out of the EU – in UK law.
This is a requirement under the terms of previous Brexit legislation passed last year.
The legislation would make the citizens’ rights part of the agreement directly enforceable in UK courts, and set their relationship with the EU’s Court of Justice.
It will also allow ministers to make “divorce payments” to the EU foreseen under the current deal, and give effect to the so-called backstop plan for the Irish border.
MPs will be able to vote on amendments to the bill, and this could allow ministers to make good on any compromise they reach with Labour in the cross-party talks.
If the bill is introduced in the first week of June it will come seven days after the European Parliament elections – which Education Secretary Damian Hinds has acknowledged could be “difficult” for the Conservatives.
A state visit by US President Donald Trump and a by-election in Peterborough will also take place that same week.