British MPs will vote on the Brexit withdrawal deal next on January 15, Prime Minister Theresa May told her Cabinet on Tuesday. Theresa May had postponed an initial vote last month in the face of opposition from all sides of the House of Commons. The debate will be opened again Wednesday by Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and will be closed by May next Tuesday, her spokesman told journalists at a briefing. There are fears that Britain could leave the European Union on March 29 without a deal. Kwasi Kwarteng, a junior Brexit minister, said he still believed May would win the vote, dismissing the idea that the prime minister was preparing to seek approval from MPs again if she lost the first time.
"The work to secure those assurances is ongoing," her spokesman said, adding that the prime minister hoped to have something to offer MPs before next week's vote.
May is hosting several drinks parties for lawmakers this week in a bid to win them round, arguing her deal is the best compromise that ends EU membership while protecting jobs.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove told cabinet colleagues that critics holding out for a better deal were like swingers in their mid-50s waiting for Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson to turn up on a date.
But with opposition among MPs still strong, there is growing speculation London could seek to delay the EU's two-year Article 50 exit process to allow more time to get the deal through parliament.
A source in Brussels told news agency AFP several weeks ago that Britain has been discussing the possibility with European officials, and a junior British minister, Margot James, publicly voiced the idea on Monday.
Theresa May's spokesman insisted: "We will not be extending Article 50. "There are people in the European Union who are discussing this issue, but that is not the position of the UK government."
Earlier, Theresa May had won the crucial vote of confidence in her leadership with 200 votes cast in favour of her and 117 against out of a total of 317 of her Conservative Party MPs. The vote had been triggered earlier in the day after the required 48 MPs from her Tory party filed letters of no-confidence with the influential 1922 Committee.
“Whilst I am grateful for the support, a significant number of my colleagues did cast a vote against me and I have listened to what they have said,” May said in a statement outside Downing Street soon after the results were declared.