British Prime Minister Theresa May says the UK faced a moment of ‘profound challenge’ as she urged MPs to get behind her Brexit deal.
May warned critics from both sides of the Brexit divide that they risked damaging the economy and trust in democracy by opposing her plan.
As MPs prepare to return to Westminster with a crunch vote looming on an withdrawal agreement thrashed out with Brussels, the prime minister said no alternative plan was able to respect the 2016 referendum result, protect jobs and provide certainty to citizens and businesses.
Addressing opponents on both the Remain and Brexiteer wings of parliament, she said: ‘There are some in parliament who, despite voting in favour of holding the referendum, voting in favour of triggering Article 50 and standing on manifestos committed to delivering Brexit, now want to stop us leaving by holding another referendum.
‘Others across the House of Commons are so focused on their particular vision of Brexit that they risk making a perfect ideal the enemy of a good deal.
‘Both groups are motivated by what they think is best for the country, but both must realise the risks they are running with our democracy and the livelihoods of our constituents.’
The prime minister said that the British ‘genius for pragmatism’ had always found a way forward which commands consensus at ‘moments of profound challenge’ such as this.
‘The only way to both honour the result of the referendum and protect jobs and security is by backing the deal that is on the table.’
But former Cabinet minister Sir John Redwood said a no-deal Brexit ‘will work just fine’ despite the ‘idiotic’ warnings about potential shortages of food and medicines.
On the other side of the Tory divide, pro-EU veteran Ken Clarke said May’s deal – which he would be prepared to support – is ‘dying’, and he would be ‘amazed’ if the mood of MPs had changed over the Christmas break.
Instead, he called for Brexit to be postponed until a way forward can be found.
MPs will resume debate on the Brexit deal on Wednesday ahead of a vote the following week.