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Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has warned fellow Conservative MPs that they risk losing Brexit altogether if they don’t back Theresa May’s deal in the Commons on Tuesday.
Mr Hunt said there is “wind in the sails” of those who oppose Brexit and it will be “devastating” for the Conservatives if they fail to deliver on their commitment to take Britain out of the EU.
MPs are due to vote on Mrs May’s deal again on Tuesday after rejecting it in January.
Some opponents have warned that Mrs May is facing inevitable defeat unless she can secure last-minute concessions on the Northern Ireland backstop from the EU.
Mr Hunt told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show: “People worry about us being trapped in the customs union by the backdoor but we could end up in the customs union by the front door if we get this wrong,” he told
“We have an opportunity now to leave on March 29 or shortly thereafter and it is very important we grasp that opportunity because there is wind in the sails of people trying to stop Brexit.
“If you want to stop Brexit you only need to do three things – kill this deal, get an extension and then have a second referendum.
“Within three weeks people could have two of those three things and quite possibly the third one could be on the way through the Labour Party. We’re in very perilous waters.”
Mr Hunt said voters would hold the Conservatives responsible for failing to deliver on the outcome of the 2016 referendum if Brexit doesn’t happen, which would be “devastating” for the party.
He said:”They are going to say there was a party that promised to deliver Brexit, we put them into Number 10 and they failed. The consequences for us as a party would be devastating.
“This is a very important moment for us. There is a risk and a possibility that we end up losing Brexit if we get the votes wrong in the next couple of weeks.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock denied the Government is heading for an “inevitable” defeat in the vote and also urged Tory MPs to get behind Mrs May’s deal, warning the country wil be plunged into uncertainty if it is defeated.
“There would be total uncertainty,” he said.”The approach we need to take on Tuesday is to get together and vote to deliver on the result (of the referendum) and then we won’t need to have any votes on what happens next.”
But former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab warned the Government is in a “precarious” position.
Mr Raab, a Brexiteer who quit over Theresa May’s deal, told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: “I think the Government has found itself in a precarious situation, particularly I think if the Government extends Article 50 or tries to reverse the Brexit promises that we have made, I think that situation would get even trickier.”
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said he expects Tuesday’s debate to end with a single vote on Mrs May’s deal.
He told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme there is a growing feeling it should be a “straight up-and-down vote” on the deal.
“I don’t know whether something dramatic will happen in the next 24 hours but unless it does, exactly the same deal is going to be put before Parliament,” he said.
“That is eight weeks of failure to come back and present exactly what was rejected so on Tuesday that has got to be exposed.”