UK Parliament Hits May on Brexit No-Deal
United Kingdom Parliament Rejected Brexit on Tuesday (03/12) - Photo by UK Office

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – British Prime Minister Theresa May under pressure to delay Brexit program after member of Parliaments (MPs) delayed the decision. May’ party is splintering over her handling of planned.

British lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected May’ deal in January, which was agreed upon by the British government and the European Union (EU). Speaking to reporters on Sunday (02/24), May said the vote would now happen by March 12, a mere 17 days before Brexit day. Is due to update lawmakers on negotiations Tuesday after she returns from talks with EU leaders in Egypt.

The Northern Ireland backstop, an insurance policy designed to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland, which remains part of the United Kingdom (UK), and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member, has been a particularly thorny issue for May, with British politicians firm that they will not back her deal without changes.

Meanwhile, the EU has reiterated that the deal cannot be renegotiated. Still, May said that her government is making progress in talks with the EU and that a deal is still “within our grasp.”

May said that she had felt a “real determination” from EU leaders in recent days to find a “smooth and orderly way to leave with a deal”. She remains focused on leaving the EU on 29 March, despite calls from her own party for a delay.

At a press conference in Sharm-el-Sheikh, May was defiant about pushing forward with the scheduled date. She stated, “A delay in this process doesn’t deliver a decision in Parliament and it doesn’t deliver a deal. What it does is precisely what the word delay says, it just delays the point in which we come to that decision.”

But opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was among those who criticized the move to delay a parliamentary vote on the Brexit deal, saying May was “recklessly running down the clock” near to the departure date.

Many MPs wanted a vote on the Brexit deal as soon as possible, concerned that a second rejection of May’ deal could lead to a “no-deal” scenario whereby Britain leaves the EU abruptly with no transitional period nor trade deal in place. British businesses continue to complain that they have not been given enough clarity and reassurance over the UK’ future relationship with the EU.

European officials showed their displeasure at May’s decision not to put forward her Brexit deal to a vote in the parliament this week, as originally planned. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker last week complained of “Brexit fatigue.”

Speculation is mounting that the UK’ departure will end up being delayed although keen Brexiteers in the British parliament would likely be angered at such a move. The Telegraph and BBC have reported that May is considering a plan that would see the UK’ departure delayed for two months.

They said government officials had drawn up a “series of options” to avoid resignations by ministers who want to ensure that Britain leaves with a deal. The BBC cited two unnamed government ministers as saying that the believe that May will “this week grant some kind of concession to allow for a possible delay.”

Meanwhile, the Guardian reported on Sunday that Brexit could be delayed until 2021 under plans being explored by the EU’s most senior officials, the paper said citing unnamed EU sources.

MPs are due to vote on a series of amendments to the Brexit deal on Wednesday, one of which would essentially try to rule out a “no-deal” departure, demanding that May requests an extension to the departure deadline if parliament fails to approve her Brexit deal. A majority of MPs are believed to back the amendment.

In the meeting EU-Arab League summit in Egypt, May is expected to use it as an opportunity to press fellow EU leaders, including German leader Angela Merkel, for more guarantees on the thorny Irish “backstop” issue.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is among those attending the summit in Sharm El-Sheikh. He told on Monday that he had spoken briefly to May on Sunday and would do so again Monday. Like other European leaders, Rutte reiterated that “the clock is ticking.”

If the UK requested an extension the EU would likely ask what the UK thought it could achieve if it was given more time, he added. The backstop is something of an insurance policy against a return to border checks between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

Although the backstop would be enacted as a last resort if no trade deal is reached between the EU and the UK in a 21-month transition period after Brexit and is designed to prevent the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

It’s contentious because it would mean that Northern Ireland, and potentially the rest of the UK, remains in a customs union with the EU for an indefinite amount of time.

The backstop could not be ended without the EU’s permission. EU leaders have refused to renegotiate the Brexit deal or backstop, however, only offering assurances that it is a last resort and unlikely to be used. The EU has previously said it is willing to consider an extension to the UK’s departure date.

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com