UK gets two new deadlines after midnight ‘crisis’ talks, May says this “underlines the importance” of MPs backing her deal, but confirms they could ultimately take control.
After crunch talks at a summit in Brussels last night, the premiers formally announced 29 March 2019 should be scrapped as the date Britain will depart from the EU.
They softened the immediate threat of a no-deal divorce by offering a delay until 22 May if MPs pass the prime minister’s Brexit deal by the end of next week.
But if parliament rejects it again in “meaningful vote three”, the UK faces a new hard deadline on 12 April – at that point it must “indicate a way forward”, including asking for a long Brexit delay and to take part in the EU parliament elections.
The prime minster was forced to seek extension of Article 50 from EU leaders, with her cabinet deadlocked over the best way out of what Downing Street now concedes is a “crisis”.
The government had maintained until the last possible moment that Brexit could go ahead as planned on 29 March or at least, after a brief “technical extension”.
But after the Speaker, John Bercow, ruled the prime minster could not put her deal to parliament unchanged for a third “meaningful vote”, her spokesman assumed it was now too late to leave with a deal.
He stated May would write to the European council president, Donald Tusk, to ask for an extension to article 50, before EU leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday. He declined to say how long a delay she would request, or what purpose, simply insisting; “You’re going to have to wait for that letter to be published”
Meanwhile, May is facing a furious backlash from her own backbenchers and called for her resignation after she blamed squabbling MPs for delaying Brexit.
In a defiant statement on Wednesday night she told the British public: “I am on your side”, and now hopes to force her deal through parliament next week at the third time of asking.