MPs Seek to Force May to Avoid No-Deal Exit

Jeannie Matthews
April 3, 2019

The evening announcement at 10 Downing Street, made after a marathon meeting of her divided cabinet, showed the famously stubborn prime minister sticking to many of her previous demands.

"The UK will remain a close ally after Brexit", said Barnier, stressing the need for close cooperation and solidarity in light of threat facing Europe: "The more the UK cooperates with the European Union in terms of for example sanctions or military cooperation, the closer and intensive our contact will be".

The votes were an attempt to forge an alternative to the government's rejected European Union divorce deal. "But to make this process work the opposition would need to agree to this too", she added.

Mr Corbyn said he was "very happy" to meet Mrs May, and would ensure plans for a customs union and protection of workers' rights were on the table.

Meanwhile Britain's top public servant, cabinet secretary and national security adviser Sir Mark Sedwill, wrote a 14-page letter to all ministers warning that a no-deal Brexit would cause many businesses to collapse, food prices to rise by 10 per cent, and national security to be compromised. The EU's Donald Tusk called for patience with London.

MPs also failed to back the idea of holding a second referendum and of unilaterally revoking Brexit altogether.

By offering to accept a compromise, May recognized that she will never be able to win round her supposed allies in the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, nor a hard core of Brexiteers in her own Conservative Party.

Boris Johnson, the face of the 2016 Brexit campaign, said a compromise with Labour would betray the referendum, asserting that the world's fifth biggest economy could be outside the European Union but still subject to European Union rules.

With just 11 days left until the due to exit the bloc of 28 nations, the stalemate leaves the prime minister with a crucial decision over what to do next. Still, May faced no immediate resignations from her senior team.

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Labour Party: Given the lack of support within the governing parties, May needed opposition backing for her deal. MPs are set to stage another series of "indicative" votes today on alternatives to Theresa May's Brexit deal.

May will convene a meeting of her Cabinet on Tuesday, likely to last five hours, to hash out a plan. They finished with Chilean red wine.

She said that any plan would need to involve passing her withdrawal agreement, which has so far failed three times to pass through parliament.

May said that if she could not agree a unified approach with Corbyn, a veteran socialist who voted against joining the bloc in 1975, then the government would come up with a number of options on the future relationship with the EU. She could seek a long delay to Brexit, which would enrage many euro-skeptics and could provoke resignations; she could call for a general election or even a new referendum and let voters decide; or she could try to force the United Kingdom out of the European Union with no deal, although Parliament would try to stop this.

It was unclear what the impact of May's move would be on her own febrile party, which has been grappling with an internal schism over Europe for the past three decades.

In a bid to break the impasse, lawmakers on Monday voted on four last-minute alternative Brexit options for what is the United Kingdom's most far-reaching policy change since World War Two.

Anti-Brexit demonstrators with an effigy of British Prime Minister Theresa May near College Green at the Houses of Parliament in London, Monday, April 1, 2019. "She needs to put forward a proposal, including saying how long an extension she thinks we need to sort things out".

The minister said if Parliament were to back an agreement later this week, it would be possible to avoid a long extension to EU membership, and being forced to take part in European Parliament elections next month.

Labour legislator Yvette Cooper, one of the bill's sponsors, says "we are now in a really risky situation with a serious and growing risk of no-deal in 10 days' time".

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