As the United Kingdom’s labyrinthine Brexit crisis goes down to the wire, May is making a last-ditch effort to get changes to the divorce package but lawmakers may try on Wednesday to grab control of Brexit in a series of parliamentary votes, Reuters reported.
After the British Parliament voted 432-202 against her deal in January, the worst defeat in modern British history, May promised to seek changes that would allow lawmakers to ratify the agreement and thus avoid a potentially disorderly exit.
On her way to Egypt for an EU-Arab League summit, May said further meetings in Brussels on securing changes to the deal ruled out a so-called meaningful vote in Parliament this week.
Instead, the new ‘high noon’ for Brexit, May and the British Parliament will be on March 12, just 17 days before Britain is due to leave on March 29.
“We won’t bring a meaningful vote to Parliament this week but we will ensure that that happens by the 12th of March,” May told reporters on board her plane.
“It is still within our grasp to leave the European Union with a deal on the 29th of March and that is what we are working to do.”
In Sharm El-Sheikh, May will try to win the backing of the EU’s leaders to secure the changes and ease increasing frustration in Europe over the political impasse in Britain over a deal that was agreed with London in November.
The EU has ruled out reopening the Withdrawal Agreement, though both sides are looking at a possible legal addendum to reassure lawmakers who worry the Irish border backstop could keep Britain trapped in the EU’s orbit for years to come.
“We have been having positive talks with the European Union ... As you know I was in Brussels last week, ministers were in Brussels last week, my team will be back in Brussels again this coming week. They will be returning to Brussels on Tuesday,” May said.
Second Brexit referendum
The UK’s Labour Party is getting closer to supporting a second Brexit referendum, its deputy leader Tom Watson told BBC TV on Sunday.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is under pressure from many of his lawmakers to explicitly support a second referendum when Parliament gets an opportunity to vote on the next Brexit steps this week.
So far he has only said that all options, including another public vote, should remain on the table.
Asked whether this would be the week Labour comes out in support of a second referendum, Watson said: “It might be ... We are getting closer to that point.”
“We are heading in that direction but there is still more play in the day’s ahead,” he said.
Undermining of Brexit negotiation
Conservative lawmaker Iain Duncan Smith said that some of Prime Minister Theresa May’s senior ministers have undermined Britain’s Brexit negotiations by publicly warning they could vote to delay Brexit to avoid a no-deal exit.
Business Minister Greg Clark, Work and Pensions Minister Amber Rudd and Justice Minsister David Gauke signaled in a Daily Mail column that they will side with rebels and opposition parties to stop a no-deal exit.
When asked about the move, Duncan Smith, a former Conservative leader, said he felt the public threat was a breach of cabinet collective responsibility.
“To do it publicly I think is a mistake on their part,” he told Sky News. “They are doing the prime minister no good at all and they do government no good at all by becoming quite so publicly opposed to what is essentially government policy.”
“Let’s let those going to do the negotiations negotiate and I would say to one or two of my colleagues in government: not a good idea to undermine them,” Duncan Smith said.
Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29 but has yet to find a deal which is acceptable to both Brussels and lawmakers at home, raising the prospect of a disorderly exit that could damage the world’s fifth largest economy.
Brexit has divided Britain at every level from voters to cabinet, and raised fears internationally that it will weaken the West. Brexit supporters hail it as casting off a failing German-led project.