Theresa May 'planning to allow MPs to vote on delaying Brexit'

Theresa May speaks to the press during the first joint European Union and Arab League summit in Sharm el-Sheikh (Getty Images)

Theresa May is planning to let MPs vote on whether they want to delay Brexit, it has emerged.

The PM is considering the move as an attempt to prevent a rebellion against her in the Commons this week, according to the Evening Standard.

Three cabinet minister warned at the weekend that they would vote for a Brexit delay if a deal cannot be reached, against the instructions of the Government.

In return for a promise not to inflict this humiliation, the PM now plans to make time for a vote in two weeks’ time on whether to delay Brexit for two months.

Delaying Brexit is the ‘rational solution’ if Theresa May fails to persuade MPs to vote for her deal, Donald Tusk said today.

The European Council president was speaking after bilateral talks with the Prime Minister in Sharm El-Sheikh.

Mr Tusk said: “Prime Minister May and I discussed yesterday a lot of issues including the legal and procedural context of a potential extension.

“For me it is absolutely clear that (if) there is no majority in the House of Commons to approve a deal, we will face an alternative – chaotic Brexit or extension.

“The less time there is until March 29, the greater the likelihood of an extension.”

Mrs May publicly insisted again that she did not want to extend Article 50, saying that doing so would not solve any of the problems plaguing the Brexit process.

She said: “Any extension to Article 50 isn’t addressing the issues.

“We have it in our grasp, there’s a real sense that we can achieve that deal. It’s within our grasp to leave on 29 March and that’s where all my energies are going to be focussed.”

At the weekend it emerged that EU officials are working on a plan to delay Brexit until 2021.

According to The Guardian, the EU supports a long extension to Article 50 if the Prime Minister fails to win the support of MPs.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Vardkar confirmed the stance today, telling press at an EU summit that a long extension would be worth it to avoid no deal.

He said: “I’d certainly rather see an extension than seeing the UK leave without a deal.

“A long extension creates a complication in relation to the European elections, but that’s a small complication relative to the impact on our economy.”

It comes as Mrs May delayed the ‘meaningful vote’ on her Brexit deal until as late as March 12, just 17 days before the UK is due to leave.

It is understood that Brussels is opposed to a short delay to Brexit as it would be unlikely for the current impasse in Parliament to be broken in a few weeks.

Defence minister Tobias Ellwood hinted this morning that the PM could be about to suggest delaying Brexit.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte talks to Theresa May joined by Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel and Luxembourg’s prime minister Xavier Bettel (Reuters)

 

What happens this week?

Theresa May admitted on Sunday that she had failed to make sufficient progress to put her deal to a vote in the Commons this week as planned.

Instead she will make a statement on Tuesday about the latest talks with the EU and then will table an amendable motion, setting out her current Brexit approach.

MPs will debate the motion on Wednesday and can put forward motions suggesting their own changes to Mrs May’s approach.

A series of votes can be expected on Wednesday evening, likely including a motion to delay Brexit rather than leaving without a deal.

Last time MPs voted on the PM’s deal she was handed a humiliating defeat and it is unlikely that sufficient changes have been made to Mrs May’s deal to win over the House of Commons.

 

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