Theresa May has warned of “more division and uncertainty” if MPs reject her Brexit divorce deal approved by EU leaders in Brussels.
The prime minister vowed to campaign for the agreement with “all her heart” ahead of next month’s showdown at Westminster, where she faces stiff opposition from all sides.
Mrs May also echoed the warning of EU chiefs that it was “the only possible deal”, rebuffing MPs seeking to change the divorce settlement hammered out in Brussels.
Again appealing directly to the British public to rally behind the agreement, she said people were tired of disagreements over Brexit and wanted to move forward.
Confirming she would put it to a Commons vote before Christmas, Mrs May said: “It will be one of the most significant votes that parliament has held for many years.
“On it will depend whether we move forward together into a brighter future or open the door to yet more division and uncertainty.
“I will take this deal back to the House of Commons, confident we have achieved the best deal available and full of optimism about the future of our country.
“In parliament and beyond it, I will make the case for this deal with all my heart and I look forward to that campaign.”
She added: “This is a deal that’s the result of what has been tough and difficult negotiations over a significant period of time and as has been said this is the deal that’s on the table, this is the best possible deal, it’s the only possible deal.”
However, she is facing a tough task in securing the backing of MPs, with more than 80 of her own backbenchers publicly stating they will join other political parties in opposing the deal.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has admitted that the parliamentary arithmetic was “looking challenging”, but argued that “a lot can change over the next two weeks”.
Former Conservative Party leader and prominent Brexiteer Iain Duncan Smith said he “certainly won’t” support the PM’s deal, arguing “far too much has been given to the EU”.
He told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “I don’t believe that, so far, this deal delivers on what the British people really voted for, take back control of your borders, your laws, your money. I think it has ceded too much control.”
As well as the withdrawal agreement, the EU leaders also approved a political declaration on the future relationship between the UK and the EU post-Brexit.
But Labour MP Lisa Nandy, who represents Wigan – which voted Leave – said the document “offers no guide as to what the future holds for the UK”.
She told Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “It’s just too big a gamble for MPs like me to take with our constituents’ futures.”
Asked if she would be supporting the deal, she said: “Well I’d hoped that it would be, but in all honesty no… it’s inconceivable now that when this comes before parliament in just a few days time that I’ll be voting for it.”
Speaking on the same programme, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire argued that MPs should back the deal or risk taking the UK “back to square one with more uncertainty, more division”.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has confirmed Labour will vote against the agreement, branding it a “bad deal” for Britain.
He said: “It is the result of a miserable failure of negotiation that leaves us with the worst of all worlds.”
Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster said there were no circumstances under which her party would vote for the deal as it stood.
She also warned her party would “review” the arrangement which has seen it prop up the minority Tory government if the Brexit deal was backed by parliament.
Appearing on The Andrew Marr Show, Ms Foster said: “I believe we should use the time now to look for a third way, a different way, a better way.”
However, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has warned that there could be no return to the negotiating table if the deal was rejected.
He said: “This is the deal. It’s the best deal possible and the EU will not change its fundamental position when it comes to these issues.
“Those who think by rejecting the deal that they would have a better deal will be disappointed in the first seconds after the rejection of this deal.”