UK lawmakers set for another big Brexit vote

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British lawmakers face another tumultuous day Thursday ahead of a vote on whether to request a delay to the country’s scheduled departure from the European Union and Prime Minister Theresa May struggles to shore up her authority.

The vote comes a day after chaotic scenes in the House of Commons, when lawmakers voted to rule out leaving the EU without an agreement on future relations. Twelve government ministers abstained rather than support May’s bid to preserve the no-deal option, while another voted against, prompting her resignation.

After Wednesday night’s vote May said Parliament faced a “fundamental choice” — a “short, technical extension” if lawmakers approve a divorce deal with the EU in the next week, or a much longer delay if they don’t.

Britain is currently scheduled to leave the EU on March 29 in line with the Article 50 process that governs a country’s two-year process to leave the bloc.

The only deal currently available is the one May negotiated over the past two years but Parliament has twice overwhelmingly rejected it. British media reported Thursday that the prime minister is preparing for a third vote on her plan, seeking to win over opponents in her own party as well as the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland.

Conservative lawmaker George Freeman suggested that May should promise to quit to get her deal through.

“This chaos can’t continue,” Freeman said in a tweet. “Something has to give.”

May warned Brexit supporters who oppose her deal that if no withdrawal agreement is passed in the coming days, the extension could then last a long time and could mean Brexit never actually happens.

Any delay in the Brexit process would require the unanimous approval of all 27 remaining EU member states, which in effects gives the bloc the power to dictate the terms of an extension.

EU officials have indicated they would approve an extension if there were a specific reason for one, but that they don’t want to provide more time for political bickering in Britain.

Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, on Thursday raised the possibility of a long delay to allow Britain to change course.

Tusk said in a tweet that, in consultations ahead of next week’s summit of EU leaders in Brussels, he will appeal to EU leaders “to be open to a long extension if the U.K. finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus about it.”


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