The vote by British lawmakers on the Brexit deal will be postponed again by March 12, Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed on Sunday.
Speaking to reporters on the plane to Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt for the European Union (EU)-Arab League (AL) summit on Sunday, May ruled out bringing the Brexit deal to Commons this week, local media said.
May was quoted by the Guardian as saying: “My team will be back in Brussels on Tuesday. As a result of that, we won’t bring a meaningful vote to parliament this week, but we will ensure that that happens by 12 March. But it’s still within our grasp to leave the EU by March 29 and that is what we are planning to do.”
Her decision will come as a blow to opponents who planned to use this week’s vote in the House of Commons to push for a delay to Britain’s departure from the EU, or for a so-called People’s Vote on her deal with Brussels.
Although the EU-AL summit is not scheduled to discuss Brexit, May said she would take the opportunity to meet with leaders of EU member states in her quest to get changes to her deal.
The new date for a meaningful date in the House of Commons will be just 17 days before Britain is scheduled to end its EU membership on March 29.
The Guardian reported that May is expected to hold meetings with the European council president, Donald Tusk later on Sunday and Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday in Egypt.
In what has been a stormy week for British politics, 11 MPs, three Conservatives and seven from the main opposition Labour Party, have left their parties and formed an Independent Group of MPs in the House of Commons.
Meanwhile in the latest development, three of her senior front bench ministers Amber Rudd, Greg Clark and David Gauke told the Daily Mail newspaper, they would support moves to extend Article 50, the mechanism that laid down Britain’s departure date as March 29. They said their move was to avoid a “disastrous” no deal Brexit, unless a deal with Brussels is agreed within the next few days.
Keir Starmer, Brexit spokesman for the main opposition Labour Party, attacked May’s decision to delay the vote.
He said in London: “This decision to further delay the meaningful vote is the height of irresponsibility and an admission of failure.
“Theresa May is recklessly running down the clock in a desperate attempt to force MPs to choose between her deal and no deal. Parliament cannot stand by and allow this to happen.”