Wednesday 18 September 2019

British MPs trying to pass law which would force Theresa May to seek delay to Brexit

Theresa May: British PM is not giving up on her withdrawal deal. Picture: AFP
Theresa May: British PM is not giving up on her withdrawal deal. Picture: AFP
Leave and remain protesters outside the Houses of Parliament, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
A supporter of Brexit holds a sign saying 'Just hoot, we voted leave' while others continue with their daily activities outside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues. Rebecca Brown/PA Wire

William James and Elizabeth Piper

A group of British MPs said on Tuesday they would try to pass a law which would force Prime Minister Theresa May to seek a delay to Britain's departure from the European Union and thus prevent a chaotic no-deal exit on April 12.

On Monday parliament failed to find a majority for any alternative to May's thrice-defeated deal. Leaving the EU without a deal on April 12 is the default legal option if Britain cannot present another viable option to EU leaders holding an emergency Brexit summit on April 10.

Madeleina Kay, Young European of the Year 2018 dressed in blue holds an EU flag and entertains the public while singing about Brexit outside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues. Rebecca Brown/PA Wire
Madeleina Kay, Young European of the Year 2018 dressed in blue holds an EU flag and entertains the public while singing about Brexit outside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues. Rebecca Brown/PA Wire

"We are now in a really dangerous situation with a serious and growing risk of no-deal in 10 days’ time," said opposition Labour lawmaker, Yvette Cooper, who has proposed the legislation alongside eleven others from several political parties, including members of May's Conservatives.

"The Prime Minister has a responsibility to prevent that happening ... If the government won’t act urgently, then parliament has a responsibility to try to ensure that happens even though we are right up against the deadline."

Read more here: Explainer: How British MPs plan to pull the UK back from the Brexit cliff-edge

The group said it would be up to the government to decide how long to propose as a delay.

Conservative MP Oliver Letwin, who led the process of so-called indicative votes on alternative Brexit options, said the draft legislation was "a last-ditch attempt to prevent our country being exposed to the risks inherent in a no deal exit."

"We realise this is difficult. But it is definitely worth trying," he added.

The MPs did not give a timetable for the legislation, but are due to take control of parliamentary time on Wednesday, when they could either debate the legislation or set out when they intend to try and pass the bill.

Pro-Brexit Conservative Bill Cash told parliament seizing control in this way was a "a reprehensible procedure".

"It is unconstitutional, it is inconceivable that we should be presented with a bill which can be rammed through in one day," Cash told parliament.

Parliament's speaker John Bercow said it was not unusual for government legislation to be passed by the House of Commons in a single day.

Madeleina Kay, Young European of the Year 2018 dressed in blue holds an EU flag and entertains the public while singing about Brexit outside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues. Rebecca Brown/PA Wire
Madeleina Kay, Young European of the Year 2018 dressed in blue holds an EU flag and entertains the public while singing about Brexit outside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, ahead of the latest round of debates in the House of Commons concerning Brexit issues. Rebecca Brown/PA Wire

The EU would have to agree to any further delay to the Article 50 negotiating period, and have said Britain would need to give a reason for the delay.

Read more here:

Soft Brexit hopes dashed as UK MPs say 'no' to four more options

Brussels issues UK with €6bn pay demand

Kevin Doyle: 'Difficult talks' start today with France running out of patience'

Back to square one as all Brexit options shot down again 

Reuters

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