May opens door to vote on no-deal Brexit, ‘short’ delay | CBC News

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday offered lawmakers the chance to vote in just over two weeks on whether to delay Brexit or go for a potentially disorderly no-deal exit from the European Union if her attempt to ratify a divorce deal fails.Opening up the possibility of taking a no-deal scenario off the table marks one of the biggest turning points in the United Kingdom’s labyrinthine Brexit crisis since the shock 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU.After the British Parliament voted 432-202 against her divorce deal in January, the worst defeat for a government in modern British history, May has repeatedly tried to use the threat of a potentially disorderly no-deal Brexit to get concessions out of the EU.But British lawmakers, worried that May’s handling of Brexit will thrust the world’s fifth largest economy into an economic crisis, have threatened to usurp control over the divorce deal from the government in a series of votes on Wednesday.Speaking to Parliament on Tuesday, May said if she fails to get approval for her deal by March 12, lawmakers would vote on March 13 on leaving without a deal.If they reject that option, MPs would vote on March 14 on a motion requesting a “short, limited extension” of the U.K.’s departure from the EU.”The United Kingdom will only leave without a deal on March 29 if there is explicit consent in the House for that outcome,” May said. “An extension cannot take no deal off the table.”I believe that if we have to, we will ultimately make a success of a no deal. Let me be clear — I do not want to see Article 50 extended. Our absolute focus should be on working to get a deal and leaving on March 29.”Just a new ‘cliff edge’?May said any extension, not beyond the end of June, would almost certainly have to be a one-off and that her government must honour the decision to leave the EU because the credibility of British democracy was at stake.”She seems to be giving us a date for a new cliff edge,” said veteran pro-EU Conservative lawmaker Kenneth Clarke.A delay could increase the chances of a reversal of Brexit, especially as the opposition Labour Party is tilting towards supporting another referendum, though much would depend on the extent of the delay.While businesses have increasingly warned of the risk of a chaotic EU exit and its impact on trade and investment, any delay would be anathema to pro-Brexit members of May’s Conservative Party.Both of Britain’s main parties are under intense pressure to change course on Brexit, though both are officially committed to implementing the result of the referendum.Running down the clockJeremy Corbyn, Opposition Labour leader, said on Tuesday that even if May gets her Brexit deal approved by Parliament, it should be put to a “confirmatory” public vote.”The prime minister’s botched deal provides no certainty or guarantees for the future and was comprehensively rejected by this House,” Corbyn told MPs on Tuesday.Corbyn said May was running down the clock in a “grotesquely reckless” way. “This is not dithering. It’s a deliberate strategy to run down the clock.”But the tilt toward another referendum raises problems for Labour — many of its traditional voters supported leaving the EU.The 2016 referendum, in which 17.4 million voters backed leaving and 16.1 million supported staying, showed a country divided about much more than the EU, and has fuelled soul searching about everything from secession and immigration to capitalism and modern British identity.The crisis has left allies and investors puzzled by a country that was for decades touted as a confident pillar of Western economic and political stability.With just a month to go until Brexit, the ultimate outcome is unclear. Scenarios range from a last-minute deal to another referendum that May has warned would reopen the divisions of the referendum or even scupper Brexit.May is trying to negotiate changes to the exit deal she agreed on with the EU last year, and had promised to bring it back for approval in Parliament by March 12 at the latest.
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