British parliament weighs forcing May into a softer Brexit

LONDON (Reuters) – Lawmakers sought to break a stalemate over Britain’s departure from the European Union on Monday by trying to force Prime Minister Theresa May to pursue much closer economic ties than the deal she negotiated envisages.

After a tumultuous few weeks in which May’s divorce strategy was rejected by lawmakers for a third time, despite her offer to quit if it passed, the future direction of Brexit remains mired in confusion and acrimony.

Three days after the date on which Britain was originally due to leave the EU, it is still uncertain how, when or even whether the United Kingdom will say goodbye to the bloc it joined 46 years ago.

In a bid to break the impasse, lawmakers took control of parliamentary proceedings and were set at vote at 8 p.m. (1900 GMT) on four options ranging from staying in the EU’s single market to revoking the formal divorce papers to avoid a no-deal exit.

The third defeat of May’s withdrawal agreement on Friday left one of the weakest British leaders in a generation facing a spiralling crisis over Brexit, the United Kingdom’s most far-reaching policy change since World War Two.

May’s government and her Conservative party, which has been trying to contain a schism over Europe for 30 years, are in open conflict between those pushing for a customs union with the EU and eurosceptics demanding a cleaner break with the bloc.

May’s chief whip, responsible for party discipline, told the BBC in a documentary being aired on Monday that the government should have known that May’s loss of her parliamentary majority in a snap election in 2017 would “inevitably” lead to a softer Brexit.

The issue has pushed aside almost all others –

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