Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, said May had “run down the clock” with her Brexit talks, meaning that to renegotiate a better permanent deal would probably require article 50 to be extended beyond March next year.
If the only alternative was the chaos of no deal, then May and the EU27 would back down and allow this, Starmer argued.
However, the Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay, who was sent out to extol the merits of the deal agreed in Brussels on Sunday, said that if MPs voted down the deal “we go into uncharted waters”.
“This is the best deal, and it’s also the only deal, and EU leaders have made that clear,” he said.
May was expected to make the same point in a statement to parliament later on Monday, warning MPs that failing to back the deal would take Britain “back to square one”.
Barclay conceded it would be difficult to get the deal through parliament, but said the cabinet needed to make the case, for it.
“I don’t pretend for a minute it’s not a challenging task given where the numbers currently look,” he told Sky News. “But this is a good deal that respects the referendum result.
“And we need to be clear with parliamentary colleagues as to what the alternative will be, which will be massive uncertainty from either no deal or no Brexit. That’s not in the interests of their constituents or in the interests of protecting jobs. It gives uncertainty to EU citizens in areas like the NHS.” [...]