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Byline: TORCUIL CRICHTON Westminster Editor

DITHERING Theresa May sparked outrage yesterday by confirming she is to duck a crunch Brexit vote scheduled for this week.

The Prime Minister yesterday ruled out putting the "meaningful vote" before the Commons to howls of protest.

But she insisted one would be held by March 12 - just 17 days before the UK is due leave the European Union.

Opposition parties condemned the move while business leaders warned crashing out must be avoided at all costs.

Labour's Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: "This decision to further delay the meaningful vote is the height of irresponsibility and an admission of failure.

"May is recklessly running down the clock in a desperate attempt to force MPs to choose between her deal and no deal.

"Parliament cannot stand by and allow this to happen."

Josh Hardie, CBI deputy director-general, said: "This is the latest signal to businesses that no deal is hurtling closer. It must be averted. Every day without a deal means less investment and fewer jobs created.

"That's the cost of running down the clock and it's irresponsible to treat that as a price worth paying."

A crucial vote on the deal was due this Wednesday, with some Tory Ministers had threatened to back a motion ruling out a no-deal Brexit.

May Although the debate is expected to go ahead, it will not bind the Government.

recklessly running down clock The PM has failed to win concessions from EU leaders on the Northern Irish backstop, which Tory Brexiteers claim is the reason they cannot support her deal.

sir keir latest vote Speaking on her way to an EU-League of Arab States summit in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, the PM admitted that without a new deal, there was no point in a vote.

She said: "I was in Brussels last week. Ministers were in Brussels last week. My team will be back in Brussels again this coming week. They will be returning to Brussels on Tuesday.

the "As a result of that, we won't bring a meaningful vote to Parliament this week. But we will ensure that happens by March 12.

starmer on delay "But it is still within our grasp to leave the European Union with a deal on March 29."

May also tried to claim that Cabinet collective responsibility had not broken down despite pro-EU ministers Amber Rudd, Greg Clark and David Gauke indicating that they could back moves to stop a no deal.

The PM said: "We have around the Cabinet table a collective, not just responsibility, but desire, to actually ensure that we leave the EU with a deal.

"That's what we're working for and that's what I'm working for."

Yvette Cooper said she would push ahead with her cross-party amendment and Bill to prevent no-deal chaos.

She added: "The Prime Minister's last-minute announcement that she won't put a Deal to Parliament this week, and is leaving it until just two weeks before Brexit day is utterly shambolic and irresponsible." Asked how the Government would treat non-binding motions expected this week which call for the ruling out of a no-deal exit and an extension of Article 50, May said: "We don't know what amendments are going to be tabled."

Ian Blackford, the SNP Westminster leader, again accused May of playing for time. He said: "It is the height of irresponsibility to allow the clock to run down to such an extent.

"May has to go, she cannot show leadership."

Parliamen"May is recklessly running down the clock sir keir starmer on latest vote delay


PLAYING FOR TIME Theresa May. Picture: AFP/ Getty Images
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 25, 2019
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