Top May ally: Long delay to Brexit unless you back May's deal
CGTN

Prime Minister Theresa May's deputy warned lawmakers Friday that unless they approved May's Brexit divorce deal after two crushing defeats, Britain's exit from the European Union (EU) could face a long delay.

The British parliament voted overwhelmingly Thursday to seek a delay to the March 29 exit date enshrined in law. May said she wanted to minimize any delay to just three months, but to achieve that she would need parliament to back her deal at the third time of asking early next week, possibly Tuesday.

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"You don't just have a short, technical extension to our membership of the EU. You almost certainly need a significantly longer one to find a time for parliament to come to a majority verdict," said May's de-facto deputy, Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington.

"I hope that MPs (lawmakers) of all parties will be over this weekend reflecting on the way forward," Lidington said, adding the legal default was that the United Kingdom would leave on March 29, unless something else is agreed.

Brexit supporters protest outside the Houses of Parliament as they campaign for a no deal Brexit, London, the UK, March 14, 2019. /VCG Photo

Brexit supporters protest outside the Houses of Parliament as they campaign for a no deal Brexit, London, the UK, March 14, 2019. /VCG Photo

Meanwhile, May is working tirelessly to get a Brexit deal, said her spokeswoman Friday, after May's plan to leave the EU was crushed in parliament for a second time this week.

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, said the spokeswoman.

The EU summit will take place on March 21-22, which gives her only three days next week to overturn the 149-vote defeat she suffered on March 12.

European Council President Donald Tusk said earlier Friday that EU leaders will consider pressing Britain to delay Brexit by at least a year during the summit.

France: UK needs a clear Brexit plan if it wants an extension

Speaking of the possible Brexit delay, French official said Friday that Britain would only be granted an extension to the article 50 Brexit negotiation period if its parliament passed the current deal on the table or if a clear, alternative plan emerged by next week's EU summit.

Brexit supporters protest outside the Houses of Parliament in London as they campaign for a no deal Brexit, London, the UK, March 14, 2019. /VCG Photo

Brexit supporters protest outside the Houses of Parliament in London as they campaign for a no deal Brexit, London, the UK, March 14, 2019. /VCG Photo

"Without clarity - an adoption of the Withdrawal Agreement or a clear alternative - a no-deal (Brexit) would prevail," the official at President Emmanuel Macron's office said.

Alternatives would include a second referendum on Britain's divorce from the EU, a new election, or a change of plan acceptable to both sides such as arrangements already agreed by countries like Canada or Norway, added the official.

(Cover: Pro-Brexit and anti-Brexit protesters hold flags as they demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament, London, the UK, March 14, 2019. /VCG Photo)

Source(s): Reuters