LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s parliament was due to vote on Thursday on seeking a last-minute Brexit delay and Prime Minister Theresa May sought to use the prospect of a long extension to push lawmakers to back her EU divorce deal, which they have twice rejected.
FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May speaks in Parliament following the vote on Brexit in London, Britain, March 13, 2019. UK Parliament/Mark Duffy/Handout via REUTERS
Little more than two weeks before Britain is due to leave the European Union, with no firm agreement in place to smooth the transition, May tried to up the pressure on eurosceptic rebels in her Conservative Party.
With her authority at an all-time low, May’s finance minister Philip Hammond said the prime minister’s plan was back on the agenda.
That plan, struck by May after two-and-a-half years of tortuous negotiations with the EU, was defeated heavily in parliament on Tuesday for the second time, after a resounding rejection in January.
“Quite a number of colleagues changed their mind on this issue between the January vote and the vote earlier this week,” Hammond told Sky News.
“It’s clear that the House of Commons has to find a consensus around something and if it isn’t the prime minister’s deal I think it is likely to be something which is much less to the taste of those on the hard Brexit wing of my party.”
Donald Tusk, head of the European Council which groups the national leaders of the bloc, said he favoured a long extension if London asked for one. An official said that meant a delay of at least a year.
The other 27 EU member states must agree to any extension.