Brexit could be delayed, Theresa May has finally admitted this afternoon.
The Prime Minister, Theresa May has told the House of Commons that if her Brexit deal is rejected again, MPs will be offered two more votes. The first would be on whether politicians are happy for the UK to leave the European Union on the 29th March without a deal.
If not, then they will be allowed to vote on whether to extend Article 50 and delay Brexit into the summer. The climbdown comes as Mrs May scrambles to avoid mass resignations by ministers who are determined to rule out no deal.
She held crisis talks this morning with her Cabinet after it emerged up to 15 are ready to walk out.
Addressing the Commons this afternoon, the beleaguered Tory leader said: ‘I don’t want to see Article 50 extended. ‘Our focus should be on working to make a deal and leave on the 29th March.
‘If we extend beyond June that means taking part in the European elections. What kind of message does that send to the more than 17 million people who voted to leave the EU nearly three years ago?’
Mrs May said that an extension would be a one-off event and merely give another ‘cliff-edge’ date for the UK’s exit from the EU. She said the choice ultimately would still remain between her deal, no deal or no Brexit.
As negotiations with Brussels over the Withdrawal Agreement go down to the wire, Mrs May has promised MPs can have a meaningful vote by the 12th March.
The high-stakes gamble means a final vote on her plan has been delayed until just 17 days before we are scheduled to leave the bloc. Mrs May suffered a crushing defeat last month when she failed to get her Brexit deal through Parliament.
It looks like she will suffer another humiliating blow when it returns again to Westminster in the middle of March. Mrs May told the House this afternoon that if she fails, a motion will be tabled by the 13th March asking if she has the support of politicians to leave without a deal. She said if she does not, then a motion will be brought forward the following day on whether Parliament would like a ‘short, limited extension to Article 50.’
he Tory leader added that if MPs voted for an extension, the Government ‘will seek to agree that extension approved by the House with the EU, and bring forward the necessary legislation to change the exit date.’
Last week, three Tory MPs – Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston – defected to the new Independent Group over Brexit.
Over the weekend three Cabinet ministers – Amber Rudd, David Gauke and Greg Clark – openly signalled they would support a backbench bid this week to delay withdrawal to prevent a no-deal. They were joined yesterday by Richard Harrington, Claire Perry and Margot James who signalled their support for an amendment, drawn up by Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Tory Sir Oliver Letwin, which would give the Commons the power to demand a delay to Brexit if an agreement is not in place by March 13.
Yesterday Labour came out in favour of a second referendum in a bid to stop a ‘damaging Tory Brexit.’ However, that has provoked splits in the ranks with members warning that Leave voters in the midlands and the north will be unhappy with a change in direction of the party.
After Mrs May’s statement this afternoon, Jeremy Corbyn said she had become an ‘expert in kicking the can down the road’ and there was still uncertainty for people’s jobs.