JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – British parliamentarians have narrowly approved a bill seeking to delay Brexit, as they attempt to avoid a no-deal exit from the European Union (EU).
In a third reading, the House of Commons voted by 313 votes to 312 on Wednesday in favor of forcing Prime Minister Theresa May to seek an extension of the current Brexit date of April 12.
The bill, which would require May to bring a motion to delay the date of Brexit, now needs to be approved by the upper house, the House of Lords. The EU would also need to agree to a delay.
May also said she would ask the EU for a further delay to Britain’s departure date – postponed once already – to avert a chaotic and economically damaging no-deal Brexit on April 12.
Skeptical lawmakers, reluctant to take her word for it, approved a hastily crafted law that compels May to ask for an extension to the Brexit deadline if a no-deal departure is looming.
“The country needs a solution, the country deserves a solution, and that’s what I’m working to find,” May told lawmakers before meeting with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for about two hours.
The political rivals agreed to a programme of cross-party talks to seek a mutually acceptable agreement on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
Corbyn described the meeting as “useful but inconclusive”, saying in a television interview that there had not been “as much change as he expected” in May’s stance and that she would have to come up with something to make her deal palatable to the member of parliaments.
According to Corbyn, future customs arrangements, trade agreements and regulatory alignment on issues including employment and the environment were all discussed during the meeting.
The two sides have agreed to continue the dialogue, with Corbyn saying more talks will happen on Thursday. May’s spokesman said that both sides had shown “flexibility” during discussions and that the commitment to continue talks would ensure the parties “deliver for the British people”, as well as protect jobs and security.
“There hasn’t been as much change as I expected but we will have further discussions to explore technical issues,” Corbyn said in a statement.
“I put forward the view from the Labour party that we want to achieve a customs union with the EU, access to the single market and dynamic regulatory alignment, that is, a guarantee of European regulations as a minimum on the environment, consumer and workers’ rights,” he said.
“I also raised the option of a public vote to prevent crashing out or leaving on a bad deal,” Corbyn added.
Earlier, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker reiterated the EU’s position that Britain should get a Brexit deadline extension to May 22 if May can persuade lawmakers to approve her withdrawal agreement, which has already been rejected three times, in the next few days.
May said on Tuesday that she planned to ask Brussels for a further Brexit extension as she tries to avoid a no-deal outcome.
“If the United Kingdom is in a position to approve the withdrawal agreement with a sustainable majority by April 12, the EU should likewise, in this case, accept a delay until May 22,” said Juncker.
But if the deal falls again, “no further short extension will be possible,” he warned, citing the risk of jeopardizing the European Parliament elections in late May.
EU leaders are meeting at an emergency summit on April 10 and appear divided over whether they should offer May any more help.
Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: Lexy@theinsiderstories.com