Sun, Mar 24, 2019 - Page 5 News List

May pushes for Brexit deal with new timetable

AFP, LONDON

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday tried to persuade British lawmakers to back an EU divorce deal, seeking to build bridges after lashing out at lawmakers for their indecision on Brexit.

May wrote to all lawmakers to spell out the possible paths forward after EU leaders granted a short delay to Britain’s departure at this week’s EU summit.

However, the prime minister said that she would not hold a third vote on the divorce deal next week if sufficient numbers do not switch sides in the coming days.

May faces daunting odds to persuade lawmakers to support the plan — something they have already overwhelmingly rejected twice — by a new April 12 deadline agreed with the EU.

If May succeeds, Britain would depart on May 22 under the terms of the withdrawal agreement struck with Brussels last year.

However, if lawmakers cannot back the deal, then Britain can ask for another extension by April 12 or face a no-deal Brexit.

A further extension would require Britain to take part in European Parliament elections in May, despite having voted to leave the bloc three years ago.

In her letter, May said that she would only bring the divorce agreement before the British House of Commons again if it looked like there was sufficient support to pass the deal.

“If it appears that there is sufficient support and the speaker permits it, we can bring the deal back next week and if it is approved we can leave on May 22,” she wrote.

However, she said that if there was not sufficient support or the chamber rejected it, Britain could ask for another extension and take part in the European Parliament elections, adding: “I strongly believe that ... would be wrong.”

Brexit protesters were yesterday expected to march in London demanding a second referendum.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that she would join.

“The EU’s decision to postpone things until at least April 12 has opened a window, and those of us who oppose Brexit must seize the chance it offers,” Sturgeon was quoted as saying by the Press Association.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the bloc’s leaders would need another summit with May to discuss how to proceed if lawmakers reject the deal again.

That prospect increased on Friday after Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party accused May of “failure” at the EU summit.

“The government has been far too willing to capitulate,” Nigel Dodds, the party’s leader in the British parliament, said in a statement, adding that “nothing has changed as far as the withdrawal agreement is concerned.”

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