Theresa May is facing growing calls saying that she should delay Brexit rather than leave the EU if no deal is reached before the end of March. A new plan from some Tory MPs suggests ministers postpone Brexit until 23 May “to conclude negotiations”.
It is being suggested as an alternative to cross-party proposals which would see MPs take control of the process. But Education Secretary Damian Hinds told the BBC delaying Brexit would only prolong uncertainty for business. The prime minister is holding talks with EU leaders at a summit in Egypt, as she presses for more concessions to her deal.
May has said that no vote would be held this week, but that MPs would have a chance to decide on the future of any deal by 12th March, vowing that a deal was “within our grasp”.
But many MPs had wanted another so-called “meaningful vote” sooner than that, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn suggested Mrs May was “running down the clock” until a time when MPs were forced “to choose between her bad deal and a disastrous no deal”.
The prime minister has long resisted any suggestion that the UK’s departure could be postponed beyond 29 March. However, two cabinet ministers have now said that they believe that she will grant some kind of concession to allow for a possible delay this week.
On Wednesday, MPs will get another chance to put forward a range of amendments in the Commons to show what direction they want Brexit to take. One – drawn up by Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Conservative Oliver Letwin – would, if passed, give MPs the power to demand a delay to Brexit if a deal cannot be agreed by 13 March.
Three cabinet ministers, Greg Clark, Amber Rudd and David Gauke, signalled they could be prepared to vote for it if there is no breakthrough in the next few days.
Brexit: This week’s key dates
Monday: The PM meets with EU leaders, including Angela Merkel and Jean-Claude Junker, on the fringes of the EU-League of Arab States summit.
Tuesday: Mrs May gives a statement to the House of Commons updating them on her progress on Brexit. Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and Attorney General Geoffrey Cox return to Brussels to continue talks with the EU.
Wednesday: MPs debate an amendable motion tabled by the government. Speaker John Bercow chooses which amendments to put forward, and MPs vote on the next step proposals.