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Riven by crisis, UK searches for Brexit emergency ‘plan B’

LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Theresa May will try on Thursday to break the impasse in Britain’s political elite over how to leave the European Union by searching for an emergency exit deal, though there is so far little sign of compromise.

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement following winning a confidence vote, after Parliament rejected her Brexit deal, outside 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, January 16, 2019. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

After May’s two-year attempt to forge an amicable divorce was crushed by parliament in the biggest defeat for a British leader in modern history, May called for party leaders to put self-interest aside to find a way forward.

If May fails to forge consensus, the world’s fifth largest economy will drop out of the European Union on March 29 without a deal or will be forced to halt Brexit, possibly holding a national election or even another referendum.

May has repeatedly refused to countenance another election and has warned that another referendum would be corrosive as it would undermine faith in democracy among the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum.

“I believe it is my duty to deliver on the British people’s instruction to leave the European Union. And I intend to do so,” May said outside Downing Street in an attempt to address voters directly.

“I am inviting MPs from all parties to come together to find a way forward,” May said. “This is now the time to put self-interest aside.”

As the United Kingdom tumbles towards its biggest political and economic move since World War Two, other members of the European Union have offered to talk though they can do little until London decides what it wants out of Brexit.

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