LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Theresa May sought to break the parliamentary deadlock over Brexit on Monday by proposing to seek further concessions from the European Union on a plan to prevent customs checks on the Irish border.
With little time left until the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on March 29, there is no agreement in London on how and even whether it should leave the world’s biggest trading bloc, and a growing chance of a dramatic ‘no-deal’ exit with no provisions to soften the economic shock.
After her Brexit divorce deal with Brussels was rejected by 432-202 lawmakers last Tuesday, the biggest defeat in modern British history, May has been searching for a way to get a deal through.
She told parliament she could not take a “no-deal” Brexit off the table as there was no approved alternative, and the EU would be unlikely to postpone Britain’s exit date – determined by the “Article 50” withdrawal notice – without an exit plan.
“No-deal will only be taken off the table by either revoking Article 50, which turns back the results of the referendum – the government will not do that – or by having a deal, and that is what we are trying to work out,” May said.
She said another referendum would strengthen the hand of those seeking to break up the United Kingdom and could damage social cohesion by undermining faith in democracy.
May vowed to be “more flexible” with lawmakers in trying to agree changes to the Northern Irish backstop, an insurance policy to ensure there will be no return to border checks between the British province and Ireland.
“I will then take the conclusions of those discussions back to the EU,” May said.