May pushes for Brexit deal with new timetable

British Prime Minister Theresa May wrote to all MPs on Friday to spell out the possible paths forward.

British Prime Minister Theresa May wrote to all MPs on Friday to spell out the possible paths forward.

AFP

LONDON - British Prime Minister Theresa May tried to persuade MPs to back the EU divorce deal, seeking to build bridges after lashing out at lawmakers for their indecision on Brexit.

May wrote to all MPs on Friday to spell out the possible paths forward after European Union leaders granted a short delay to Britain's departure date at this week's EU summit.

However, the prime minister said she would not hold a third vote on the divorce deal next week if sufficient numbers do not switch sides in the coming days.

READ: May gets two-week Brexit reprieve from impatient EU

The premier faces daunting odds to persuade British lawmakers to support the plan -- something they have already overwhelmingly rejected twice -- by a new April 12 deadline agreed with the EU.

If May succeeds, Britain -- which was staring at a cliff-edge deadline of March 29 for leaving the EU -- will depart on May 22 under the terms of the withdrawal agreement struck with Brussels last year.

But if MPs cannot back the deal, then Britain can ask for another extension by April 12 or face a no-deal Brexit.

A further extension would require Britain to take part in European Parliament elections in May, despite having voted to leave the bloc three years ago.

READ: Speaker deals blow to British PM's bid to revive Brexit deal

In her letter, May said she would only bring the divorce agreement before the House of Commons again if it looked like there was sufficient support to pass the deal.

She spelled out the four options ahead, the first to being to revoke Britain's notice to leave the EU, "but that would betray the result of the referendum", the second to leave with no deal on April 12 -- which a majority of MPs have said they do not support, in a vote earlier this month.

"If it appears that there is sufficient support and the speaker permits it, we can bring the deal back next week and if it is approved we can leave on May 22," she wrote.

But she said if there was not sufficient support or the house rejected it, Britain could ask for another extension and take part in the European Parliament elections, adding: "I strongly believe that... would be wrong".

READ: Pound up but still faces pressure after Brexit delay deal

The pound rose on news of the Brexit delay but is likely to remain volatile amid uncertainty over what path Britain will now take.

Stocks in London ended the day 2.0 percent lower.

As uncertainty continues to reign, more than 3.7 million people have signed an online petition calling on the government to cancel Brexit.

Source
AFP