British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to delay a final vote of the parliament on her European Union withdrawal agreement until the end of February, a move the opposition says will only run the clock down.
UK Housing minister James Brokenshire told the BBC on Sunday that May would use a Thursday debate in the House of Commons to promise the chamber a chance to vote on her revised Brexit deal on February 27 only if a breakthrough is not achieved before that time.
“That gives that sense of timetable, clarity, and purpose on what we’re doing with the EU – taking that work forward and our determination to get a deal – but equally knowing that role that parliament very firmly has,” Brokenshire said.
May suffered a historic defeat on her Brexit deal in the Commons on January 15. The lawmakers then forced her to seek concessions from the EU on a controversial clause in the deal which sets out rules for future administration of the Irish border.
In meetings earlier this week in Brussels, May failed to convince senior EU officials to reopen the co-called backstop as she was told to seek a compromise with the opposition Labour Party if she wants to secure an orderly Brexit at the end of March.
However, a key Labour figure said on Sunday that the party will use this week debate in the Commons to compel May to present a fresh accord for lawmakers to consider before February 26, meaning that opposition will try to prevent May from waiting until the last minute to come back with a deal.
“We shouldn’t be put in a position where the clock is run down and the prime minister says it’s either my deal or even worse. That isn’t right in terms of the respect for parliament,” said Keir Starmer, Labour’s Brexit policy chief, in an interview with the Sunday Times newspaper.
Many expect that May would finally fail to go through the parliament with her withdrawal deal. She has repeatedly said that scenario would force her to implement a disorderly Brexit on March 29 despite warnings that it could have serious implications for the economy.