UK asks European Union for three-month Brexit delay

UK asks European Union for three-month Brexit delay

By Luke Vargas   
Published
Prime Minister Theresa May gestures in response to questions from lawmakers during a meeting of the House of Commons. March 20, 2019. Courtesy: House of Commons Press Office
Prime Minister Theresa May gestures in response to questions from lawmakers during a meeting of the House of Commons on Wednesday. (Courtesy: House of Commons Press Office)

European Council President Donald Tusk says he'd back a short Brexit delay on the condition British lawmakers quickly agree on a Brexit deal.

UNITED NATIONS — British voters eager to leave the European Union as planned on March 29 had their hopes dashed on Wednesday, as Prime Minister Theresa May formally asked European leaders to extend a Brexit deadline to June 30 amid repeated failures by lawmakers to agree on a Brexit deal.

Speaking one day ahead of a summit of European leaders to discuss Brexit, European Council President Donald Tusk said he approved May’s delay on one condition.

“I believe a short extension will be possible. But it will be conditional on a positive vote on the withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons.”

Obtaining that positive vote has thus far proved elusive for May. On two occasions — in January and again this month — members of the House of Commons overwhelmingly rejected the Brexit deal she first began negotiating in early 2017.

May had hoped to present the same deal for a third vote this week, but she was blocked from doing so by the speaker of the House of Commons, who invoked a parliamentary convention dating back to the year 1604 that the government could not present the same bill for multiple votes without making substantial changes to its text.

It’s not clear how May hopes to get around that rule when she hopes to present her Brexit deal for a third up or down vote next week. Perhaps she hopes the urgency of the situation and the increasingly likely possibility that Britain crash out of the E.U. without any arrangements in place — will convince wary lawmakers to pinch their noses and back her Brexit text.

If they fail to do so, May suggested she preferred a ‘no-deal Brexit’ to none at all.

“Some have suggested holding a second referendum. I don’t believe that’s what you want, and it is not what I want. We asked you the question already and you gave us your answer. Now you want us to get on with it, and that is what I am determined to do.”

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