Brexit: May's appeal to nation backfires as MPs accuse her of stoking hate – Politics live

Theresa May travels to Brussels today to formally request an extension to article 50 that would delay Brexit behind Friday next week, when the UK was supposed to leave the EU. British prime ministers have often had difficult encounters with their EU counterparts over the years, but it is hard to think of one more demeaning for the PM, or one where the power gap between the UK and the EU27 has been wider. “Humiliating” is an adjective frequently overused in political reporting, but today it is the prefect description.

As if that was not bad enough, May seems to have hamstrung her own, slender chances of getting parliament to agree a deal next week by giving an evening address to the nation in which she blamed MPs for the Brexit deadlock. You can read the full text here, and it will make quite a good case study for the Guardian’s ongoing study of the new populism. “I am on your side,” May declared, as she framed the crisis as a clash between MPs and the people. Parliament was to blame because it “has done everything possible to avoid making a choice”, claimed May, apparently oblivious to the charge that she herself is an Olympic-grade procrastinator.

Unsurprisingly, the speech has infuriated MPs. My colleagues Heather Stewart and Jessica Elgot have some of their reaction here.

And here is more.

From Labour’s David Lammy

David Lammy

Theresa May’s attempt to put Parliament against the people on #Brexit tonight is sinister. It is the populism of Steve Bannon and Donald Trump. History will judge her brutally. Our country deserves so much better than this.

March 20, 2019

From Labour’s Jess Phillips

Jess Phillips

She’s a national disgrace. I don’t know why each time it surprises me. https://t.co/QKvmvuCNX1

March 20, 2019

More worryingly for May, her speech was also denounced by Lisa Nandy, one of the relatively few Labour MPs who (until last night, at least) had sounded open to the prospect of being persuaded to vote for May’s deal.

Lisa Nandy

The Prime Minister’s statement was disgraceful. Pitting Parliament against the people in the current environment is dangerous and reckless. Yesterday her government attacked their civil servants. Now she’s attacking the MPs whose votes she needs. It will have cost her support

March 20, 2019

Some Conservatives are unhappy too. This is what the former minister, Sam Gyimah, a remain-voter who is opposed to May’s deal, told the Today programme:

I think democracy loses when a prime minister who set herself against the House of Commons and then blames MPs for doing their job.

And this is particularly worrying given she knows MPs are receiving hate mail in their inboxes. Some MPs are receiving death threats.

And Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, says May was inadvertently making the case for a second referendum.

Nicola Sturgeon

Of course, the logic of Theresa May’s assertion that Parliament’s indecision is frustrating the will of the people is to put the issue back to the people and let them decide. If she is confident that the people back her, what’s stopping her?

March 21, 2019

Here is the agenda for the day.

Morning: Jeremy Corbyn holds talks in Brussels with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, and Martin Selmayr, the European commission’s secretary general.

12.30pm (UK time): EU leaders start arriving for the EU summit.

After 6pm: Donald Tusk, the European council president, and Jean-Claude Juncker, the European commission president, are due to hold a press conference after the discussion about Brexit. Theresa May is expected to hold one too.

You can read all the latest Guardian politics articles here. Here is the Politico Europe round-up of this morning’s political news. And here is the PoliticsHome list of today’s top 10 must-reads.

If you want to follow me or contact me on Twitter, I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

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Theresa May making her Brexit statement in Number 10 last night.

Theresa May making her Brexit statement in Number 10 last night. Photograph: CHRIS J RATCLIFFE/POOL/EPA


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