British Prime Minister Theresa May has promised to offer MPs a vote on her Brexit deal by March 12, the latest delay in her attempt to win approval for a plan to ensure Britain’s orderly departure from the European Union.
As the United Kingdom’s labyrinthine Brexit crisis goes down to the wire, Ms May is making a last-ditch effort to get changes to the divorce package but MPs may try on Wednesday to grab control of Brexit in a series of parliamentary votes.
After the British parliament voted 432-202 against her deal in January, Ms May promised to seek changes that would allow MPs to ratify the agreement and thus avoid a potentially disorderly exit.
Ms May said further meetings in Brussels on securing changes to the deal ruled out a so-called meaningful vote in parliament this week.
Instead, the new “high noon” for Brexit, Ms May and the British parliament will be on March 12, just 17 days before Britain is due to leave on March 29.
“We won’t bring a meaningful vote to parliament this week but we will ensure that that happens by the 12th of March,” Ms May told reporters on board her plane on Sunday on her way to Egypt for an EU-Arab League summit.
“It is still within our grasp to leave the European Union with a deal on the 29th of March and that is what we are working to do.”
In Sharm El-Sheikh, Ms May will try to win the backing of the EU’s leaders to secure the changes and ease increasing frustration in Europe over the political impasse in Britain over a deal that was agreed with London in November.
The EU has ruled out reopening the withdrawal agreement, though both sides are looking at a possible legal addendum to reassure MPs who worry the Irish border backstop could keep Britain trapped in the EU’s orbit for years to come.
“We have been having positive talks with the European Union … As you know I was in Brussels last week, ministers were in Brussels last week, my team will be back in Brussels again this coming week. They will be returning to Brussels on Tuesday,” Ms May said.
“I think what’s important that we are still in that process of working with the EU, looking at the ways in which we can resolve the challenge that parliament raised.”
Britain is in the deepest political crisis in half a century as it grapples with how, or even whether, to exit the European project it joined in 1973.
Both Britain’s major parties fractured last week, losing MPs who cast their former parties as broken remnants of a political system that was in meltdown.
Before she set off for Egypt, three members of her cabinet publicly split with government policy and said they would side with rebels and opposition parties to stop a no-deal Brexit.
Senior figures in the opposition Labour Party said on Sunday it was moving closer to supporting another Brexit referendum and could do so as soon as early as this week.