United Kingdom government downplays suggestion it will seek Brexit delay

14 February, 2019, 06:42 | Author: Donnie King
  • Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during a speech at a Labour local government conference at The Slate Warwick conferences Coventry. PRESS ASSOCIATION

Theresa May's chief Brexit negotiator Olly Robbins says Members of Parliament will ultimately have a choice between her deal or a lengthy delay to Brexit.

The Prime Minister is sticking to the idea of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union on March 29, leaving many to fear it resulting in a no deal Brexit.

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The British government denied on February 13 it was secretly plotting to force MPs into a last-minute choice on Brexit between a rejigged deal or a lengthy delay.

Mrs May has asked for more time for her talks with Brussels, and her motion will simply ask for support for her Brexit strategy.

None are expected to win enough support to pass, with lawmakers who are seeking to force the government to delay Brexit saying they will wait until the next round of votes May has promised on February 27 to make their move.

She said it was possible to pass Bills "quite quickly" with "good will" from the Commons and Lords, but added: "It's just not possible to say how quickly it could be done, but obviously it depends on the way in which there is adequate debate on the meaningful vote and that's what the Prime Minister is determined to do".

She insisted that the government still intends to leave the European Union on 29 March with a deal in place - but Downing Street has stressed that the possibility of a no-deal Brexit "remains on the table", saying it is an "eventuality we wish to avoid, but one we continue to plan for".

But several MPs have tabled amendments - which set out alternative plans - including one from Labour that would force the government to come back to Parliament by the end of the month to hold a substantive Commons vote on its Brexit plan.

May told lawmakers that Parliament had approved a two-year countdown to Brexit, and "that ends on the 29th of March".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday that the European Union wanted to "do everything for a deal, but it certainly it has to be a fair deal. and there we unfortunately still have a bit of work ahead of us".

Although May welcomed the prospect of future talks with Corbyn to try and find a compromise, the letter gave no ground on their central point of disagreement.

With 45 days to go, former attorney general Dominic Grieve warned that time was running perilously short for ratification of any deal under the terms of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act.

The Act requires 21 sitting days before the ratification of any global treaty, to allow MPs to study the agreement.

But Mrs May responded: "In most circumstances, that period may be important in order for this House to have an opportunity to study that agreement".

Labour Brexit spokesman Paul Blomfield said: "This plan shows contempt for our democracy".

The focus of numerous pro-Brexit lawmakers is the motion the government will put forward on Thursday, which some suggest takes a no deal scenario off the table.

The Committee on Transport and Tourism proposed the legislation which they say will provide "basic connectivity" in terms of aviation and road connections should the United Kingdom crash out of the EU.

An ITV News correspondent, Angus Walker, said he overheard negotiator Olly Robbins in a Brussels bar saying the government would ask Parliament in late March to back her agreement, rejected by lawmakers last month, or seek an extension to the Brexit deadline.



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