Britain could face a long delay to Brexit if lawmakers cannot agree a way forward in coming days, Prime Minister Theresa May said after lawmakers voted to reject leaving the European Union without a deal in any circumstance.
“If the House finds a way in the coming days to support a deal, it would allow the government to seek a short, limited, technical extension to Article 50 … Such a short technical extension is only likely to be on offer if we have a deal in place,” May told parliament.
“The House has to understand and accept that if it is not willing to support a deal in the coming days and – as it is not willing to support leaving without a deal on March 29 – then it is suggesting that there will need to be a much longer extension to Article 50,” she said, adding that the longer extension would mean Britain would undoubtedly have to take part in European Parliament elections in May.
The government will propose on Thursday to seek a delay to Brexit until June 30 if parliament approves a deal to leave the European Union by March 20, the parliamentary Speaker said on Wednesday.
MPs are due to vote on a possible extension on Thursday, when the government will also say that if no agreement has been approved by parliament by March 20, it is unlikely that the EU will approve any extension at its summit on March 21-22 without a specific reason to do so.
If the deal is passed by March 20 “then the government will seek to agree with the European Union a one-off extension … for a period ending 30 June 2019 for the purpose of passing the necessary EU exit legislation”, the Speaker John Bercow told parliament.