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Brexit: May facing uphill battle to break deadlock

Brexit: May facing uphill battle to break deadlock  article image

With a new deadline fast looming, Britain's Parliament remains deadlocked over plans to leave the European Union.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is now considering her next move to break the Brexit deadlock following the latest defeat of her withdrawal plan.

The House of Commons is scheduled to vote again today on a variety of Brexit options.

This includes staying in the EU customs union and holding a second referendum on Brexit – which are emerging as the most likely options.

Many still believe Mrs May's EU divorce deal is still the best alternative, however, the PM faces a titanic battle to win majority support by the April 12 deadline.

If she can’t get a deal through the Parliament she will have to seek EU approval for a longer extension to the Article 50 process to avoid a “no deal” Brexit.

If there is no resolution, Britain will crash out of the EU without a plan for future relations.

This will throw global trade into turmoil and cause major damage to Britain’s economy.

Parties remain deeply divided

The PM’s Brexit deal, which has been painstakingly negotiated with the EU over several months, has already been rejected by Parliament three times.

The biggest problem is that Brexit cuts across traditional political lines.

Mrs May's Conservatives and the opposition Labour party are both split between those who want to sever links to the EU and those who want to remain close to the bloc – and very few are willing to compromise.

But the prime minister insists the UK needs an "alternative way forward."

For almost three years, Mrs May has been attempting to bridge the increasingly bitter political divide.

PM will continue to seek support

The government has so far failed to win over 34 Conservative rebels. Remainers argue for another referendum and Brexiteers say Mrs May's deal leaves the UK too closely aligned to Europe.

Northern Ireland's DUP – which the government relies on for support in votes in the House of Commons – also continues to oppose the deal.

Government sources say the prime minister will continue to seek support for her Brexit deal in the Commons, insisting efforts are "going in the right direction".

If Mrs May wants to hold another vote on her Brexit deal in Parliament, it must comply with Commons Speaker John Bercow's ruling that it can only be brought back with "substantial" changes.

Mrs May said there would be "grave" implications of rejecting the deal and warned they were "reaching the limits of this process in this House".

Changing leaders is not the answer

Her comments led to speculation the PM could try to call a general election in hopes of securing a stable majority government in Britain.

The Labour opposition is eager to go to the polls, convinced that such a move might persuade the EU to extend the Brexit talks for a second time.

However, former Prime Minister John Major has warned that even changing leaders would do little to break the Parliament deadlock.

"Of course, a new leader may, depending upon who it is, have less baggage than a prime minister who's had to fight for everything from the moment she went into Downing Street," he told the BBC.

"But it doesn't change the numbers. It doesn't change the arithmetic. It doesn't change the instincts and convictions of people both in the Remain and in the Leave camp."

So what’s next? 

  • Monday, April 1: MPs hold another set of votes on Brexit options to see if they can agree on a way forward
  • Wednesday, April 3: Potentially another round of so-called "indicative votes"
  • Wednesday, April 10: Emergency summit of EU leaders to consider any UK request for further extension
  • Friday, April 12: Brexit day, if UK does not seek/EU does not grant further delay
  • May 23-26: European Parliamentary elections

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