Theresa May’s Brexit boast backfires spectacularly as she’s unable to count to 6

Theresa May’s boast about her Brexit deal backfired spectacularly today – as she failed to count to six.

The Prime Minister stood up to praise her 611-page agreement in the House of Commons after Jeremy Corbyn branded it "waffle".

And she laid down the gauntlet to Labour to vote for her deal in the House of Commons.

Mrs May proclaimed the deal met Labour’s ‘six tests’ for a good Brexit, and ticked them off one by one in pantomime style.

But she only listed five – and the one she missed out says everything.

She left out the solemn promise to achieve the "exact same benefits" as the UK currently enjoys with EU membership.

Most people don’t think that’s possible. Even Labour shadow minister Barry Gardiner called the test "bollocks". So it’s not surprising she left it out – but her own goal was noticed immediately.

Her statement came after the UK and EU agreed a 26-page ‘political declaration’ on the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

That adds to a 585-page ‘withdrawal agreement’.

Both parts are now due to be signed off by EU leaders on Sunday – with Mrs May saying a final deal is "within our grasp".

Mrs May was hoping promises of a "free trade area" in the new document would win over Tory MPs who are threatening to vote the whole thing down.

But their fury continued today as Boris Johnson said MPs must "junk" the deal that "makes a complete nonsense of Brexit".

And two Tories she singled out for praise, Owen Paterson and Iain Duncan Smith, stood up to say they still could not back her deal.

Mrs May tried to take on Tory criticisms head-on, saying it "ends the jurisdiction" of EU courts in the UK, would not "trade off" access to UK fishing waters, and "ends free movement once and for all".

She added it was a "good deal for our country and our partners in the EU".

Key points from UK’s 611-page Brexit deal with EU

The EU has agreed a two-part Brexit deal – and it has enraged Tories. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • The transition period can be extended until December 2022 – after next election
  • Goods face being checked between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK
  • We need the EU’s permission to quit the ‘backstop’
  • European courts will still have a big hold on the UK
  • We’d need ‘deep’ co-operation with EU rules

  • We could have to allow access to our fishing waters

  • And finally… the whole thing is very vague


But Jeremy Corbyn branded the political promises "26 pages of waffle".

Labour’s leader said: "What on earth has the government been doing for the last two years?

"They’ve managed less than one page a month since the referendum."

He added: "She says nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. It’s clear from this document that indeed, nothing is agreed.

"This is the blindfold Brexit we all feared – a leap into the dark."

Will Theresa May win the Brexit deal vote?

Theresa May has a Brexit deal, but the danger is looming that it will be defeated in the House of Commons.

Even getting it past her Cabinet forced Esther McVey and Dominic Raab to resign. Now she faces two more hurdles – an EU summit with 27 leaders on November 25, and then the vote in Parliament at some point before Christmas.

MPs are grouped in several factions – their warring opinions are explained more fully here.

But if 318 or more vote against the deal, they will defeat the deal.

Against the deal

TORY BREXITEERS: There are up to 60 (but probably a lot fewer), led by Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg. They will vote down a deal that keeps Britain trapped in "vassalage" with Brussels.

TORY HARD REMAINERS: Only about a dozen, but many – including Justine Greening and Jo Johnson – will vote against, instead wanting a second referendum.

DUP: Theresa May’s Northern Irish allies – who she handed £1.5bn – are 10-strong. They will vote down the deal if it allows customs checks between Ulster and Britain.

LABOUR LOYALISTS: About 150 MPs are consistently loyal to Jeremy Corbyn on Brexit. The party has confirmed they’ll be told to vote against the deal because it doesn’t meet Labour’s ‘six tests’.

LABOUR REMAINERS: There are about 50 hard Remainer Labour MPs. They’re likely to oppose the deal to avoid enabling a Brexit.

OTHERS: The SNP (35), Lib Dems (12), Plaid Cymru (4) and Greens (1) are all likely to vote against.

For the deal

TORY LOYALISTS: Well over 200 are likely to vote with Theresa May, for the deal. Many have paid government jobs – so would have to quit if they oppose her.

‘NERVOUS LABOUR’: Some Labour MPs could BACK a deal – fearing otherwise Britain will be plunged into an even worse No Deal. There could be 20 or more. Caroline Flint is among them.


LABOUR BREXITEERS: There are only about half a dozen. It was generally thought they’d side with Theresa May, but Kate Hoey MP broke ranks and said she could vote against.

Theresa May’s comments on her deal in full

Does it ensure a strong and collaborative future relationship with the EU? Yes. (Labour MPs: NO!)

Does it ensure the fair management of migration in the interests of the economy and communities? Yes. (Labour MPs: NO!)

Does it defend the rights and protections and prevent a race to the bottom? Yes. (Labour MPs: NO!)

Does it protect national security and our capacity to tackle [..].. Yes it does. (Labour MPs: NO!)

And does it deliver a deal that is good for every part of the UK? Yes it does. (Labour MPs: NO!)

Brexit deal countdown

25 November 2018: Emergency EU summit with 27 other leaders to sign off the deal.

Early December? A vote in the House of Commons on the deal.

13 December: The last chance EU Council summit, where deal could come back for more negotiation.

20 December: Parliament rises for its Christmas break. Final or ‘re-run’ vote by MPs must be held before now. If it fails there could be no deal, or a general election, or a second EU referendum.

29 March 2019: Brexit Day. If there’s a deal, this will be a total anticlimax because a transition will be in place. If there’s No Deal, planes could be grounded, ports jammed up and customs checks thrown into chaos at 11pm.

31 December 2020: If there’s a deal, this is when the transition period – which continues pretty much all the EU rules we have now – is supposed to end. But it could be extended by two more years.

1 January 2021: If there’s still no deal, under current plans a "backstop" would kick in. This could keep the UK tied to EU customs rules, until a proper agreement is reached, in exchange for keeping the Northern Ireland border open.

Read the full guide to the timetable here.

Labour’s six tests for the deal in full

1. Does it ensure a strong and collaborative future relationship with the EU?

2. Does it deliver the “exact same benefits” as we currently have as members of the Single Market and Customs Union?

3. Does it ensure the fair management of migration in the interests of the economy and communities?

4. Does it defend rights and protections and prevent a race to the bottom?

5. Does it protect national security and our capacity to tackle cross-border crime?

6. Does it deliver for all regions and nations of the UK?

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