Theresa May asks MPs for more time on Brexit

Erika Holt
February 14, 2019

He was quizzed by MPs about the state of the Brexit negotiations and his views on how the Irish government is handling its side of the talks.

In the past, Corbyn repeatedly called for a general election should the prime minister fail to get a deal approved by Parliament.

She promised to update Parliament at the end of the month but there is growing concern the talks will drag on into March and that the last chance to strike a deal will be at a two-day summit of European Union leaders starting on March 21, just eight days before the United Kingdom is slated to leave the bloc.

Corbyn told parliament the prime minister has just one real tactic: "to run down the clock hoping Members of this House are blackmailed into supporting a deeply flawed deal".

"The talks are at a crucial stage", May will say, according to extracts from her statement to parliament released in advance by her Downing Street office.

In a statement to parliament to update lawmakers on her negotiations with the European Union to secure changes to the Brexit deal, May said she wanted lawmakers from all parties to back the Brexit deal she is aiming to strike, citing the need to pass further legislation to prepare for Britain's exit from the EU. "We now all need to hold our nerve to get the changes this House requires and deliver Brexit on time".

She said May would promise MPs they could hold a series of votes on February 27 in an attempt to influence her Brexit strategy if she has not agreed a new deal by then. "In particular, I believe that we have a shared determination across the House not to allow the UK's leaving the European Union to mean any lowering of standards in relation to workers' rights, environmental protections, or health and safety".

The EU's Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said on Monday the bloc would agree to tweak the political declaration on post-Brexit EU-UK ties that forms part of the exit package, to reflect a plan for a closer future relationship that could remove the need for the backstop. But any such move would cost May the support of a big chunk of her Conservative Party.

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The political impasse leaves Britain lurching toward a chaotic no-deal departure that could be costly for businesses and ordinary people in both the United Kingdom and the EU.

"It is actually a reckless policy", Labour's Brexit spokesman, Keir Starmer, told BBC Radio on Wednesday.

She added necessary legislation needed to ensure a smooth Brexit would be in place, amid fears parliament was running out of time to approve it.

After talks in Strasbourg at the European Parliament, UK Brexit minister Stephen Barclay said there was "a lot of goodwill on both sides" to achieve a deal.

Mr Corbyn said Mrs May "is playing for time and playing with people's jobs, our economic security and the future of our industry".

Business leaders have argued that a no-deal Brexit would spell disaster for the UK's economy.

The British government denied on February 13 it was secretly plotting to force MPs into a last-minute choice on Brexit between a rejigged deal or a lengthy delay. Figures released Monday showed that Britain's economy slowed a year ago to its joint-slowest annual rate since 2009, with business investment declining for four straight quarters.

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