Kwarteng leads bid to get May’s thrice-defeated Brexit bill passed

NIcholas Cecil

Brexit Minister Kwasi Kwarteng has been picked to lead a Commons attempt to rescue Theresa May’s thrice-rejected Brexit deal.

The minister will pilot the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill — dubbed the “WAB” — which will No 10 hopes to turn into a vehicle for cross-party deals.

A government source told the Standard that Opposition MPs will be free to put down amendments to the vital legislation, but on the understanding that if it is voted down there will be a higher risk of crashing out without any deal.

“It will be a very wide-ranging Bill,” said a source. “It will put a lot of issues into legislation that MPs across the House want to see enshrined into law.”

Among enticements for Labour MPs will be a section on workers’ rights and environmental protection.

Up to 30 Labour MPs might support the Bill if given assurances, according to some party sources. However, there is scepticism among others that Labour could vote in such numbers to bale out Mrs May.

The Bill has to be backed by the Commons within weeks for Mrs May to be able to cancel the European Parliament elections and avoid a damaging Tory rout.