Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

Vote on May’s Brexit deal: Who are the movers and shakers?

As Theresa May prepares to put her withdrawal agreement to a vote, who are the key players working against her?

Theresa May's Brexit deal finally reaches the House of Commons on Tuesday. Getty
Theresa May's Brexit deal finally reaches the House of Commons on Tuesday. Getty

With 650 MPs holding a variety of opinions on how best to deal with the referendum result, Theresa May faces an uphill struggle to get her deal for Brexit approved. Who are the people with influence to bear over others in the vote?

Here’s our handy guide:

John Bercow

John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons speaks at Westminster Hall inside the Palace of Westminster in London. AP
John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons speaks at Westminster Hall inside the Palace of Westminster in London. AP

Who? MP for Buckingham and Speaker of the House of Commons.

Leave or Remain? Remain, although the speaker of the house should stay neutral in parliamentary debates

What does he want? The speaker’s role is to act in the best interests of the House of Commons, but a recent decision has brought him under fire from MPs accusing him of siding with remainers.

Last week, Mr Bercow approved an attempt to change what would happen in the event that Mrs May loses her vote on Tuesday.

He allowed an amendment tabled by Dominic Grieve to require the prime minister to present an alternate plan within days if she loses Tuesday’s vote. Under usual parliamentary procedure if the deal was not passed, the government have to come back within 20 days; under the amendment, this would be cut to three.

He has also been criticised for an anti-Brexit car sticker which he claimed was in his wife’s car.

Anna Soubry

Anna Soubry is an ardent remainer. Reuters  
Anna Soubry is an ardent remainer. Reuters  

Who? Conservative MP for Broxstowe and minister for small business until July 2016, Ms Soubry hit the headlines last week as pro-Brexit campaigners in yellow vests harassed her outside parliament, one calling her a “Nazi”.

Leave or Remain? Remain

What does she want? Ms Soubry supports a second referendum, forming part of the cross-party People’s Vote campaign. In a note to her constituents ahead of Tuesday’s vote, she said she would vote against Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement.

“I do not seek to “thwart” or stop Brexit. Only the British people can do that if that is what they want,” she wrote.

“I do believe the Prime Minister’s deal should be put back to the public in a People’s Vote or second referendum. I also believe the option of remaining in the EU should be on the ballot paper and accept there is an argument for a “no deal” Brexit option as well.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Jacob Rees-Mogg is leader of the pro-brexit ERG. AFP
Jacob Rees-Mogg is leader of the pro-brexit ERG. AFP

Who? Conservative MP for North East Somerset and leader of the European Research Group which favours a hard Brexit. Mr Rees-Mogg was a leading campaigner for the Leave campaign in 2016 and co-founded investment firm Somerset Capital Management.

Leave or Remain? Leave

What does he want? A favourite of the various TV crews parked outside the Houses of Parliament for his pomp and old-fashioned demeanour, Mr Rees-Mogg is against Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement. When Mrs May delayed the original December vote on the issue, Mr Rees-Mogg was one of 48 Conservative MPs who submitted a letter of no confidence, triggering a leadership challenge which ultimately failed to oust the PM. On Sunday he took to Twitter to declare “no deal is still better than a bad deal”.

Dennis Skinner

Labour politician Dennis Skinner is an ardent leaver. Getty
Labour politician Dennis Skinner is an ardent leaver. Getty

Who? MP for Bolsover and political firebrand, Mr Skinner is Labour’s longest-serving representative. The 86-year-old backbencher, known for his cantankerous speeches in Parliament, is a staunch eurosceptic.

Leave or Remain? Leave

What does he want? Mr Skinner criticised Mrs May for delaying the vote on her deal with the EU in December. “Doesn’t the Prime Minister realise that she’s handed over power, not to people in this House, but she’s handed over power to the people she’s going to negotiate with – over in Europe?” he said in parliament.

He is expected to vote against Mrs May’s deal on Tuesday evening.

Sammy Wilson

 DUP politician Sammy Wilson supported the Leave Means Leave campaign, appearing at series of rallies and events. Getty
 DUP politician Sammy Wilson supported the Leave Means Leave campaign, appearing at series of rallies and events. Getty

Who? DUP MP for East Antrim in Northern Ireland. The DUP has a confidence and supply arrangement with Mrs May’s Conservative party, with 10 MPs in Parliament helping her party to pass legislation.

Leave or Remain? Leave

What does he want? Mr Wilson’s concern is with the Irish border. On Tuesday, he declared his intention to vote against May’s deal due largely to the Northern Irish backstop. The backstop is currently written into May’s deal as a temporary measure to prevent the return of a hard border between Ireland, and thus the EU, and Northern Ireland.

However, the backstop will means that goods coming into Northern Ireland would still be subject the EU standards. This would result in a temporary single custom territory covering the whole of the UK in the customs union until a better plan is worked out.

“Government ‘pledges’ on the backstop could be written in blood and still wouldn’t change the reality or legality of this diabolical deal. We will vote it down” he wrote on Twitter.

Sir Desmond Swayne

Sir Swayne has hinted he will support it May's deal. Getty
Sir Swayne has hinted he will support it May's deal. Getty

Who? Former banker and Conservative MP for New Forest West.

Leave or Remain? Leave

What does he want? Reading this list may lead you to believe that Mrs May has little support for her deal, but one prominent Brexiteer has hinted he will support it to avoid being on the same side as those who wish to prevent Brexit.

“This deal is better than staying in the EU – we will be out of the Common Fisheries Policy, out of the Common Agricultural Policy, out of the relentless momentum for political integration,” he said.

“I’m very much aware that the events and the votes of last week present a danger to Brexit.”

He said he didn’t want to vote with “those who are there because their strategy is actually to prevent Brexit at all,” he told lawmakers.

Updated: January 15, 2019 09:46 PM

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