Theresa May is Considering Postponing Two Months of Leaving the EUPolitics | February 25, 2019, Monday // 11:43| views
Prime Minister Theresa May is considering a plan under which Britain’s exit from the European Union would be delayed for up to two months, the Telegraph reported on Sunday. British government officials have drawn up a series of options, which were circulated at the weekend, in a bid to avoid resignations by ministers determined to support a backbench bid to take a “no deal” Brexit off the table this week, according to the Telegraph.
Those options include making a formal request to Brussels to delay Brexit if May cannot secure a deal by March 12, the newspaper reported, without citing sources.
May put off a vote in parliament on her Brexit deal until as late as March 12 – just 17 days before Britain is due to leave the EU – setting up a showdown this week with lawmakers who accuse her of running out the clock.
As the Brexit crisis goes down to the wire, May said a so-called “meaningful vote” would not take place this week as expected. Parliament will still hold a series of Brexit votes on Wednesday, but May’s deal itself will not be on the table.
On her way to an EU/Middle East summit, May said she is close to bringing home changes to her agreement that would satisfy objections to it, but needed time for meetings with European leaders which meant it would not be ready this week.
“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.”
Opponents accuse her of deliberately running out the clock, so as to force parliament to choose between a deal it has already rejected or leaving the EU with no deal at all, which businesses say would destroy their supply chains.
Both May’s Conservatives and the main opposition Labour Party are formally committed to exiting the EU in line with a 2016 referendum vote, but both parties are internally divided over how or even whether to do so.
Before May set off for Egypt, three members of her cabinet publicly split with government policy and said they would side with rebels and opposition parties to stop a no-deal Brexit.
Yvette Cooper, an opposition Labour lawmaker who has proposed a bill that would block a no-deal Brexit, said May’s “last minute announcement that she won’t put a deal to parliament this week, and is leaving it until just two weeks before Brexit day, is utterly shambolic and irresponsible”.
“She cannot just keep drifting and dithering like this or there is a real risk our whole country tumbles off a cliff edge into a chaotic no deal that no one is ready for and that would hit food prices, medicine supplies, manufacturing and security.”
Some lawmakers will seek to grab control of Brexit in Wednesday’s series of votes, though such attempts have previously been defeated as May sought more time to get a deal.
Senior Labour figures said that the main opposition party was moving closer to supporting another Brexit referendum and could do so as soon as early as this week. Nine Labour lawmakers and three Conservatives quit their parties last week in the biggest shakeup of its kind in British politics for decades, raising the prospect of further defections from both parties.