LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Theresa May will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday to argue for a Brexit delay while her ministers hold crisis talks with Labour to try to break the deadlock in London.
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May arrives at church, as Brexit turmoil continues, near High Wycombe, Britain April 7, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
Britains departure from the EU has already been delayed once but May is asking for yet more time as she courts veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn, whose opposition Labour Party wants to keep Britain more closely tied to the bloc after Brexit.
“The Prime Minister has not yet moved off her red lines so we can reach a compromise,” Corbyn said ahead of further talks between his team and government ministers on Tuesday.
While May travels to Berlin and Paris ahead of an emergency EU summit in Brussels on Wednesday, British lawmakers will hold a 90-minute debate on her proposal to delay Britains EU departure date to June 30 from April 12.
The debate has been forced on the government by parliament passing a law on Monday which will give lawmakers the power to scrutinise and even make legally binding changes to Mays request to extend the Article 50 negotiating period again.
Labours demands include keeping Britain in a customs union with the EU, something which is hard to reconcile with Mays desire for Britain to have an independent trade policy.
The Telegraph reported Labour and the government were still discussing both a customs union and the idea of holding a confirmatory referendum on any deal they agree.
Both ideas are anathema to many in Mays party, whose rebels have helped trigger three parliamentary defeats of the withdrawal deal she negotiated with the EU last year.
“Ive said many times before, we can be more, much more ambitious in our future relationship with the UK,” EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier told a news conference with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in Dublin on Monday.
The 2016 referendum revealed a United Kingdom divided over much more than EU membership, and has sparked impassioned debate about everything from secession and immigration to capitalism, empire and what it means to be British.
Yet, more than a week after Britain was originally supposed to have left the EU, nothing is resolved as May, the weakest British leader in a generation, battles to get a divorce deal ratified by a profoundly divided parliament.
If Britains exit is delayed beyond May 22, the EU has said it will have to take part in European Parliament elections. The British government on Monday took the legal steps necessary to take part in that vote.
“It does not make these elections inevitable, as leaving the EU before the date of election automatically removes our obligation to take part,” a government spokesman said.
EU leaders, fatigued by the serpentine Brexit crisis, must decide on Wednesday whether to grant May a further delay. Read More