LONDON, April 9 (Reuters) - British lawmakers are expected to endorse Prime Minister Theresa May’s request to the European Union to delay Brexit until June 30 at a vote in parliament later on Tuesday, adding weight to the pitch she will make to EU leaders in Brussels.
Parliament is due to vote on whether to endorse May’s plan around 1610 GMT. The opposition Labour Party have pledged their support for the move, so it is expected to pass albeit with a rebellion from pro-Brexit Conservatives who want Brexit sooner.
“We should all be very clear what this extension would be for - it is all about making sure we leave the EU in a timely and orderly way and that means leaving with a deal,” government Solicitor-General Robert Buckland said at the start of a 90-minute debate in parliament.
The debate came as May travelled to Berlin and Paris to drum up support for her request for more time to try and find a new plan for Britain’s EU exit that can command the support of her political opponents at home.
The vote itself is the culmination of an unprecedented power grab in parliament by lawmakers who this week passed a law against the government’s wishes, seeking extra guarantees that May will not allow Britain to leave the EU without a deal on April 12.
But because May has already requested a delay, and with no alternative dates chosen to be voted on by lawmakers on Tuesday, the vote was not a major flashpoint in the country’s long-running political crisis over how to deliver Brexit.
Nevertheless, the process of passing a law to trigger Tuesday’s debate has further undermined May’s political authority.
Labour Party Brexit spokesman Matthew Pennycook said his party would support May’s extension plan, but warned that the extra time must be used to try and find a compromise with Labour and not to pass her own thrice-rejected deal at a fourth attempt.
“The public will not forgive the government if an extension is sought and agreed under the pretence of efforts to secure cross-party compromise,” he said. (Reporting by William James and Kylie MacLellan; editing by Stephen Addison)