Nearly three years since Britain voted to leave the European Union, everything has come down to the wire — but Parliament wants to give itself a slightly longer fuse.
In a vote Thursday, Parliament approved a government plan to ask the EU for an extension to the Brexit process. Members voted 412 – 202 for the motion, which declares that Britain will ask the EU to extend the process until June 30.
Britain will leave the bloc in a mere 15 days unless the EU approves a delay.
Prime Minister Theresa May plans to bring her withdrawal deal before Parliament for a third time on Wednesday, following two humiliating defeats of her plan. If her deal passes, the government will need an extension in order to sort out all the legislation needed for the U.K. to leave. If May’s deal is defeated a third time, then the prime minister says she will have to ask EU leaders for a much longer extension, which also might not be approved by the EU.
The difference between a short delay and a long one could be significant. A longer extension could mean time for a second referendum on Brexit or even a general election that could push May’s Conservative Party from power.
May is in favor of only a short delay, if any. Her deal is set to go up for a vote the day before an EU Summit in Brussels, at which member nations would vote on Britain’s request to delay Brexit.
All 27 of the other EU members would need to approve any extension. Britain will need to show how it could use more time to find a way forward, when it has so little to show for years of political infighting since the June 2016 referendum on Brexit.
“The EU has done everything it can to help get the Withdrawal Agreement over the line,” the EU’s chief negotiator, Michael Barnier, said after a second vote on May’s deal failed this week. Read more