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By Lord Watson of Wyre Forest
Press releases

Brexit to be delayed by at least three months as Theresa May gives MPs one week to pass deal

3 min read

Brexit is to be delayed by at least three months after Theresa May's faltering government was plunged into a fresh crisis.

The Prime Minister said MPs have just seven days to back her deal or face the risk of the UK remaining in the EU for years.

Mrs May's desperate gambit came after the Commons defied her to vote to permanently rule out a no-deal Brexit.

Up to 20 ministers - including four Cabinet ministers - defied a three-line whip to abstain on the key vote.

But in a clear sign that Tory Party discipline has completely broken down, they were assured that they would not be sacked for doing so.

A motion to be debated and voted on by MPs on Thursday says that unless her Brexit deal - which has already been rejected twice by the Commons - is passed by 20 March, "the Government will seek to agree with the European Union a one-off extension of the period specified in Article 50 for a period ending on 30 June 2019".

And it warns that if they do not pass her deal "it is highly likely" the EU will demand a lengthy Brexit delay and insist that the UK takes part in the European elections due in May.

Addressing the Commons following Wednesday night's votes, Mrs May said: "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, to provide time to pass the necessary legislation and ratify the agreement we have reached with the EU.

"But let me be clear, such a short technical extension is only likely to be on offer if we have a deal in place. Therefore, the House has to understand and accept that if it is not willing to accept a deal in the coming days, and as it is not willing to accept leaving without a deal on the 29th of March, then it is suggesting that there will need to be a much longer extension to Article 50.

"Such an extension would undoubtedly require the UK to hold EU parliament elections in May 2019. I do not think that would be the right outcome, but the House needs to face up to the consequences of the decisions it has taken."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said responsibility for the Brexit delay "lies solely and squarely at the Prime Minister’s door".

He added: "Let us, as a House of Commons work now to find a solution - to deal with the crisis facing the country and the deep concerns that many people have for their livelihood, their lives, their future, their jobs, their communities and their factories. It’s up to us, as the House of Commons, to look for and find a solution to their concerns. That is what we were elected to do."

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