Brexit vote: Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard says he will back May's deal 'unenthusiastically'
Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard this afternoon became the first of Shropshire's MPs to announce he will back Theresa May's Brexit withdrawal agreement tonight - although "unenthusiastically".
Mr Pritchard tweeted: "PM very good at Parliamentary Meeting. I did not support WA in January. Her new assurances over Irish backstop aren't perfect but they are a significant improvement. So I will 'unenthusiastically' support the deal. Dangers: no Brexit at all, ext of Article 50, if vote is lost...."
Later he clashed with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during a debate on the issue in the House of Commons.
It comes after the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said that Theresa May’s last-minute Brexit agreements “reduce the risk” that the UK could be trapped indefinitely in the backstop, but do not remove it altogether.
Mrs May has called on MPs to back her Brexit deal, saying she has secured “legally binding” changes which ensure the Irish backstop cannot be permanent.
Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski said he had not yet made up his mind how to vote and would wait to hear the advice of the Attorney General.
He tweeted: "Explained to @LBC We now await legal advice of Attorney General. In addition ERG have set up panel of 8 MPs who are lawyers/barristers and they will give us advice later today whether or not these changes are legally sufficient to enable us to support them."
This afternoon, the Leave-backing European Research Group - which counts Mr Kawczynski and North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson among its members - recommended that MPs do not back Mrs May’s deal after its so-called Star Chamber determined that the government’s new Brexit agreement does not meet the tests set for it.
Speaking during this afternoon's Commons debate, Mr Kawczynski said: “We got the legal opinion from the Attorney General, which was not as strong as we had hoped for.
“Then our independent panel of legal experts in the ERG, the eight of them, have given us their opinion that those guarantees are not sufficient and not watertight, and now we hear that the DUP will not be supporting the deal. So it’s going to be very very difficult for Brexiteers like me to support the Prime Minister this evening.
“Now, Mr Juncker is saying ‘no more’. And that’s the gamble we have to take – if we don’t vote for this, what will happen if there is an extension of Article 50?”
Mr Kawczynski told the BBC that, although he doesn't want it, a General Election was "a distinct possibility" if Mr May loses tonight's Brexit vote.
Mr Paterson tweeted a video: "My question to @Geoffrey_Cox following his Statement, confirming that the UK would have no unilateral right to leave the arrangement if we and the EU were unable to agree."