LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected next week to try and persuade parliament to back her Brexit deal at the third time of asking, before heading to Brussels to request a short delay to the exit process.
In three days of high-stakes voting in parliament this week lawmakers determined that they did not support May’s exit deal, did not want to leave the European Union without any deal, and wanted a delay to the March 29 exit day to resolve the impasse.
May has told lawmakers they have two choices: back my deal next week and face a short delay, or reject it and face a much longer delay.
Here’s what is expected to happen in the coming days:
May has said her preference for short delay to Brexit. This means she needs to hold another vote in Britain’s 650-seat parliament on her deal before an EU summit on March 21/22.
That gives her three days next week to overturn the 149-vote defeat she suffered on March 12.
When EU leaders meet in Brussels next week, May will use the summit to request an extension to the two-year Brexit negotiating period which is due to end on March 29.
The outcome of these talks will be determined by whether or not parliament has approved May’s deal, and what conditions the EU attaches to a delay. Any delay requires agreement of all other 27 EU members.
If May’s deal is rejected next week, ministers have warned that the EU is only likely to agree to a longer delay, and that an alternative approach to Brexit would need to be found.
In this scenario, the government has said it is willing to find a way to allow parliament to seek a majority for an alternative path.
The government has not yet been specific about how this would work, but it could involve holding a series of votes on different options in order to determine which, if any, could command parliament’s support.
(The story corrects ‘with’ to ‘without’ in second paragraph.)
Reporting by William James; editing by Guy Faulconbridge