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Merkel ally floats idea of broader talks with United Kingdom if Brexit delayed

16 March 2019

The Conservative Party was split down the middle as Parliament voted to delay Brexit beyond its scheduled date of 29 March.

"There will be Conservatives who vote against it come what may, that's why in order for it to pass three things have to happen: she has to get the DUP on board, she has to persuade as many as possible of the 75 (Brexiteer) Conservatives to vote for it, and she will nearly certainly need more Labour MPs", said John Whittingdale, a Conservative lawmaker and member of the pro-Brexit faction.

This incredible state of affairs has come to pass despite the Prime Minister having repeatedly promised that Article 50 would not be extended and that Brexit would be delivered "on time" - in line with her now long-abandoned mantra that "no deal is better than a bad deal".

It resulted in 188 Conservatives - more than half the parliamentary party - voted against her motion on the grounds that it would break the party's commitment to leaving on 29 March.

Asked if MPs should back Mrs May in next week's vote on her EU Withdrawal Agreement, 57 per cent of Tory voters say they should, with 26 against, a margin of more than two to one in her favour.

That raises the extraordinary prospect of the Prime Minister even making a fourth attempt to win a majority for her withdrawal agreement with Brussels.

The vote against a no-deal Brexit was non-binding, but investors believe Britain will now avert a disorderly Brexit that would severely damage its economy.

It's due to end at Parliament on March 29, the day the United Kingdom was supposed to leave.

Mrs May has made clear that she will press her Agreement to a third "meaningful vote" in the Commons by March 20 in the hope of securing the support of MPs who rejected it by 230 votes in January and 149 earlier this week.

The amendment for a second Brexit referendum was rejected by 334 to 85 votes.

European Union leaders will consider pressing Britain to delay Brexit by at least a year to find a way out of the domestic maelstrom, though there is shock and growing impatience at the political chaos in London.

The Cheshire MP, who resigned as Work and Pensions Secretary over the deal four months ago, said Leaver MPs will "have to think a different way" when the Prime Minister's European Union divorce returns to the Commons next week.

Or at any point Labour could call a vote of no confidence.

He said the British government was "very focussed" on addressing the issue of the Irish backstop, an insurance policy that sets out what happens to the Irish border after Brexit.

The European Parliament's Brexit co-ordinator has cast doubt on the European Commission's desire to allow an extension to Article 50 while Parliament still appears to be in "deadlock".

Merkel ally floats idea of broader talks with United Kingdom if Brexit delayed