Britain beats retreat from Brexit cliff-edge

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on March 15, 2019 - Duration: 02:14s

Britain beats retreat from Brexit cliff-edge

Britain will seek a delay to Brexit after a series of cliff-edge votes this week.

Now Brexiteers have a choice -- to tolerate a delay that could derail leaving the European Union, or support Theresa May's reviled Brexit deal, which goes before lawmakers again next week.

Lucy Fielder and Andrew MacAskill report.


Britain beats retreat from Brexit cliff-edge

Britain is on a cliff-edge and Brexiteers face a stark choice: A delay that could jeopardize leaving the European Union, or, to hold their noses and back Theresa May's Brexit deal.

That's the one they've trashed in parliament -- twice.

And, which the prime minister is putting to the vote again next week.

In this week's parliamentary marathon -- lawmakers defeated it for the second time on Tuesday (March 12).

On Wednesday (March 13), they rejected Brexit with no deal.

And on Thursday (March 14), they voted to seek a delay.

All this, two weeks before the divorce date.

Yet this dire week might have strengthened May's hand.

Reuters Andrew MacAskill was in parliament.

SOUNDBITE (English) REUTERS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, ANDREW MACASKILL, SAYING: "The fact that this week parliament has removed one of the options of leaving without a deal, means that in a strange way, this deal which has suffered the biggest defeat in modern history and the fourth biggest defeat in modern parliamentary history now has a greater likelihood of going through.

She is trying to scare euroskeptics within her own party by telling them that if they don't back her deal, then they face the possibility that Brexit may not happen at all.

And we're already seeing some signs that this deal may be getting some momentum but it's not entirely clear yet whether it will be enough to get it passed next week." Brussels still says that treaty -- the fruit of two and a half years of talks -- is the only show in town.

And it has to approve a postponement -- which would be to the end of June if the deal is passed next week.

If not, probably longer -- to find a way out of the Brexit labyrinth.

A deeply divided Britain will have to persuade the EU that it has a better plan than months' more bickering.

It's all grist to the mill for Brexit's opponents.

SOUNDBITE (English) REUTERS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, ANDREW MACASKILL, SAYING: "I think the remain camp think now that there is a possibility that we could end up with a second referendum.

Parliament is unable to agree any way forward and that means that eventually they think that we may have to go back to the public." Rebels' concerns about the deal revolve around the so-called backstop to prevent Irish border checks -- which they say would keep Britain within the EU's orbit.

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