The Labour Party have officially called for a delay to Brexit, saying that Theresa May has run out of time to pass her deal before 29th March. Until now, the party has only said that a delay was increasingly inevitable.
Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary – standing in for Jeremy Corbyn – said no-one could “seriously think” the prime minister was about to get the concessions from the EU she is seeking.
“The sensible, cautious thing to do at this late stage is to seek a temporary extension of Article 50 so we time to see if the negotiations succeed or, if they do not, to pursue a different plan.”
May is due to travel to Brussels to begin fresh talks and will attempt to renegotiate a Brexit deal. But Thornberry said that it was clear that the Prime Minister would fail to “get anything different” from these discussions.
“None of them have given us any encouragement that they are willing to reopen the withdrawal agreement.”
David Lidington responded for the Conservative Party, saying that delaying Brexit would “simply defer the need” for MPs from all sides of the house to “face up to difficult decisions”.
Thornberry has also requested that the Prime Minister guarantee that a Commons vote on the Brexit options promised by May would take place. This comes after fears in the House that the government would attempt to skirt around that pledge, worried that it would give more control to ‘Remainers’.
However, Lidington insisted that the vote would go ahead, and that May had been “completely clear” that she would hold the vote on 14th February if it was too soon to stage a second ‘meaningful vote’.
Thornberry said that a potential solution to the Brexit chaos was “staring the government in the face”, which would be to accept Labour’s call for a customs union, which the House would support.
“Plan A has been resoundingly rejected by Parliament, plan B was ruled out by the EU months ago and the Government is in danger of sleepwalking the country towards leaving with no plan and no deal at all.
“So, with just over 50 days to go, can I give the minister a final opportunity to tell us whether there is a better plan than this or for goodness sake will he let parliament take charge instead?”
May’s official spokesman said afterwards: “The very clear position of the prime minister is that there will not be an extension of Article 50.”