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Theresa May commits to votes on no-deal Brexit or Article 50 extension | Politics News



Theresa May has promised MPs votes on a no-deal Brexit or a delay to Brexit, if the House of Commons once again rejects her EU withdrawal agreement.

The prime minister vowed to give MPs the chance to express their consent for either outcome should they vote down her revised Brexit deal, which she has pledged to bring back to the Commons by 12 March.

Last month, MPs overwhelming rejected her agreement with Brussels and – if this were to happen again – they will now get a vote on whether to support the UK leaving the EU without a divorce deal by 13 March.

If the Commons rejects a no-deal Brexit, which is likely, MPs will then get a vote on a “short, limited extension” to the Article 50 period by 14 March.

This would postpone Brexit beyond the UK’s scheduled departure date of 29 March, although Mrs May argued a “one-off” extension to the Article 50 period – for negotiating Britain’s exit – could only last to the end of June.

If it was any longer, this would compel the UK to take part in this year’s European Parliament elections, she said.

“What kind of message would that send to the more than 17 million people who voted to leave the EU nearly three years ago now?,” the prime minister asked MPs, as she provided an update on Brexit progress.

She also warned extending Article 50 would still not rule out a no-deal departure, adding: “An extension cannot take no deal off the table.

“The only way to do that is to revoke Article 50, which I shall not do, or agree a deal.”

Mrs May made the commitments after coming under pressure from government ministers – including the threat of resignations – to agree to extend Article 50 in order to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

Theresa May

PM: UK would ‘make a success of a no-deal’

The prime minister is currently battling to win changes to her Brexit deal from Brussels before presenting an altered agreement to the Commons for a second meaningful vote.

Making a Commons statement following her conversations with EU leaders at a weekend summit, Mrs May insisted the UK would “ultimately” make a success of a no-deal Brexit, despite “very serious challenges” in the short-term.

But, she acknowledged MPs are “genuinely worried that time is running out” to pass a Brexit deal, with many “deeply concerned by the effect of the current uncertainty on businesses”.

Mrs May signalled her actions are designed to stave off the threat of a backbench bid to hand control of the Brexit process to the Commons.

A proposal from Labour’s Yvette Cooper – backed by former Tory ministers Nick Boles and Sir Oliver Letwin – would have seized control of the Commons timetable from the government and paved the way for MPs to legislate to force the prime minister to seek an extension to Article 50 in order to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

Mrs May said her commitments “all fit the timescale” of Ms Cooper’s plan, while she also argued against the “far-reaching implications for the way in which the UK is governed”, should the backbench bid prevail.

Theresa May

May: MPs’ ‘explicit consent’ needed for no-deal

The prime minister’s efforts appeared to have persuaded the MPs to back down.

Sir Oliver tweeted: “PM statement does what is needed to prevent no deal exit on 29 March and enables MPs to forge cross-party consensus on new way forward if PM’s deal does not succeed on 12 March.

“No need now for Cooper-Letwin Bill.”

Jeremy Corbyn

Corbyn confirms plan for a fresh vote

Mr Boles and Ms Cooper said they would be laying amendments in order to “seek confirmation” of the PM’s commitments.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose party would have formally supported Ms Cooper’s proposal, branded the prime minister an “expert in kicking the can down the road”.

He claimed any extension to Article 50 is only necessary due to her “shambolic negotiations and her decision to run down the clock”.

Mr Corbyn also confirmed his party will demand a “confirmatory” public vote on the prime minister’s Brexit deal, should it pass the Commons.

Mrs May attacked the Labour leader over his party’s support for a second EU referendum, accusing him of “breaking his promise to respect the 2016 referendum”.

She also claimed Mr Corbyn has “kept no-deal on the table by refusing to vote for a deal”.

Theresa May

PM: Vote for my deal…’simples’

The prime minister adopted the slogan of insurance comparison site, as she told SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford the way to end Brexit “uncertainty” is to “vote for a deal”.

“Simples,” added Mrs May.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds warned the prime minister’s commitments on Tuesday would encourage Brussels to “sit back and wait” rather than agree to changes she wants to her Brexit deal.

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake accused Mrs May of having created “a potential double cliff edge”.

Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, who chairs the European Research Group (ERG) of Conservative eurosceptics, told Sky News it would be “perfectly acceptable” to delay Brexit in order to change the Irish border backstop arrangement or to allow time to legislate for withdrawal.

But, he added: “If it’s being delayed, which is my suspicion, as a plot to stop Brexit altogether then I think that would be the most grievous error that politicians could commit.”

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