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2pm Summit in Brussels

EU leaders meet as May blames MPs for Brexit delay

Theresa May No Deal statement

Theresa May: ‘public has had enough’


 

European Union leaders meet in Brussels today to consider Prime Minister Theresa May’s plea to extend Britain’s exit beyond 29 March.

Mrs May has asked the EU to postpone Brexit until 30 after accepting that departure by next week’s self-imposed deadline was now off the table.

Summit chairman Donald Tusk said in a letter inviting all 28 EU national leaders to Brussels talks that an extension would be conditional on a positive vote on the Withdrawal Agreement. All 28 EU leaders meet in Brussels at 2pm today and will hear an address from Mrs May. A final decision is not expected today.

Any delay requires unanimous approval by all the other national EU leaders and last night France was threatening to scupper Mrs May’s request, indicating that Britain had to be out by 23 May to avoid having to take part in European Parliament elections.

In a statement last night the Prime Minister blamed other MPs for the delay. “It is now time for MPs to decide,” May said, speaking in Downing Street. “You want us to get on with it. And that is what I am determined to do.”




In addition to the two major parliamentary defeats, Mrs May also had her hand forced by parliament ruling out a no-deal exit.

“Of this I am absolutely sure. You, the public, have had enough,” she said. You are tired of the infighting, tired of the political games and the arcane procedural rows, tired of MPs talking about nothing else but Brexit when you have real concerns about our children’s schools, our National Health Service, knife crime,” she said.

“You want this stage of the Brexit process to be over and done with. I agree. I am on your side.”

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow derailed the government’s plans on Monday when he used an ancient parliamentary rule to stop it bringing its motion back to the chamber unchanged, after it was rejected by 230 votes in January, and 149 last week.

Earlier in the day Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for Mrs May to form a cross-party consensus. He was invited invited to a meeting on Wednesday at Downing Street but left when he discovered former Labour MP Chuka Umunna of the breakaway Independent Group was also present.

Mr Corbyn said: “The Prime Minister has shown tonight she is in complete denial about the scale of the crisis we are facing and unable to offer the leadership the country needs.

“To continue to bring back her damaging and twice rejected deal without significant changes, while threatening a no deal outcome ruled out by MPs, is unacceptable and reckless.

“I made clear to the Prime Minister tonight that we must move immediately to agree a compromise alternative that supports jobs and living standards, can win the support of parliament, be negotiated with the EU and bring the country together.”





In a face-to-face meeting this evening, Ian Blackford MP told Theresa May to change course, or resign – warning the Tory leader was taking the UK down the path to disaster.

The SNP Westminster Leader told the Prime Minister to face up to the fact that her bad deal had been rejected, and put the decision back to the people in a second EU referendum, with Remain on the ballot paper – as the most democratic way forward from the Brexit crisis.

In a frank exchange, Mr Blackford told her that the people of Scotland should not be dragged out of the EU against their will and that if necessary the SNP would take steps to secure a vote on revoking Article 50.

Ahead of meeting with the Prime Minister
 Ian Blackford (SNP), Vince Cable (Lib Dem) , Liz Saville Roberts (Plaid Cymru) and Caroline Lucas (Green) released a statement which said: “We agree that the House of Commons must formulate a plan that will give the EU Council the confidence to agree a longer extension beyond 30th June, so that by the end of next week legislation can be in place to prevent a No Deal exit.

“We will be pushing for the House of Commons to support a referendum on remaining in the EU, others will put forward their own positions.

“If the Commons cannot agree, as a last resort we would be prepared to take steps to secure a parliamentary vote on the revocation of Article 50.

“The Prime Minister must not be allowed to bully MPs into a choice between her bad deal and no deal. That would make Brexit a choice between disaster and catastrophe, and that would be a failure of truly historic proportions.

“The UK – and all of its people and nations – deserve better.”

 



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