LONDON, Feb. 27, (Xinhua/GNA) - British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday bowed to massive
pressures at home over Brexit by opening door to a possible delayed
speaking at the House of Commons, offered members of parliament (MPs) the
chance to delay Brexit if they reject her deal with the European Union (EU)
again in "a meaningful vote" in two weeks.
It is the first
time for the British government to state publicly that it is considering the
options of a Brexit delay.
concession is also read by some observers here as a significant tactical
retreat: it was about buying herself more time.
proposal is being observed here as a significant policy shift in her steadfast
Brexit strategy since she took office in July 2016 against a background of
current threats of massive resignation from her government and rising public
and opposition outcry for a second Brexit referendum.
has to get through three votes starting March 12 before a delayed British
divorce with the EU. If May succeeds in pushing her Brexit deal through the
parliament in the first vote, the other two subsequent proposed balloting will
be automatically cancelled.
observers here said that her chance of success is very slim. The prime
minister announced the dramatic change although she makes it crystal clear that
"I do not want to see Article 50 extended."
The latest move
greatly weakened her ability to threaten the parliament and EU leaders with an
ultimatum of "my deal or no deal."
May told the
House of Commons that MPs can postpone Brexit and stop a no-deal departure from
the EU. In other words, MPs will have the chance to vote on a no-deal Brexit or
a short extension to Article 50 if the prime minister cannot get her deal
through the House of Commons.
announcement came after three British government ministers - Richard
Harrington, Claire Perry and Margot James - threatened to support a fresh
amendment attempt to extend Article 50.
Her climb down,
which came just 31 days before the planned exit date, is seen as her desperate
efforts to avoid a Tory revolt.
British work and pensions secretary, is also among the senior government
officials who are threatening to resign in the next 24 hours if May does not
give a clear enough promise that MPs can delay Brexit if her deal is defeated
ministers were all backing a delayed Brexit if she could not get the legally
binding assurance from Brussels she has been seeking to avoid a harder border
between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Accusing May of
"running down the clock" in a "grotesquely reckless" way,
opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said at the parliament that "the
prime minister's botched deal provides no certainty or guarantees for the
announcement does not offer a guarantee for a Brexit delay, but it makes the
postponement more likely.
minister, who repeatedly said that her government is mandated to deliver the
outcome of the June 2016 referendum, insists that Brexit should be carried out
as planned on March 29.
disagreements with May and her party over Brexit, former Tory MPs - Anna
Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen - have defected to join the Independent
They will not
vote in the parliament in accordance with the party lines. Also on
Tuesday, Downing Street insisted that "very strong preference"
remains on getting a revised Brexit deal.
British Attorney General Geoffrey Cox is in talks with EU officials to revise
the Irish backstop.
But no big
changes are expected, so May's Brexit deal is expected to be voted down, just
as it was by a record margin in January, when she has sustained the heaviest
parliamentary defeat of any British prime minister in the modern era after MPs
rejected her Brexit deal by a resounding majority of 230.
week, the prime minister grabbed some quality time with unyielding European
Union leaders on the sidelines of the EU-Arab League summit in Egypt although
Brexit was not on the agenda of the high-level gathering.
efforts did not produce any results in her favour. "Any extension
cannot take no deal off the table," May told the MPs.
way to end uncertainty over Brexit is to vote for a deal," May added.