British Prime Minister Theresa May has reportedly decided to delay next week’s parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal out of fears that she will not be able to renegotiate a deal with the European Union (EU) by then.
May’s chief whip, Julian Smith, signaled at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday that the second vote on the divorce agreement would be delayed until the end of February to buy the PM enough time to strike a deal with the bloc in time, the Telegraph newspaper reported late on Wednesday, without citing its sources.
The vote on a new deal is now being planned for the week beginning Feb. 25, just over a month before Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, according to the report.
Last month, May suffered a humiliating defeat at the House of Commons after lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected her original deal, urging her to make changes to the treaty.
The EU, however, has ruled out renegotiation for major changes.
European Council President Donald Tusk said Wednesday that the bloc will make no new offers.
He went as far as implying that supporters of Brexit deserved a “special place in hell” for promoting the exit “without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it out safely.”
May is due in the EU capital Brussels on Thursday to warn EU leaders that they should either accept legally binding changes to the Irish border arrangements, the main bone of contention in the deal, or risk a disorderly no-deal Brexit.
The Telegraph reported on Tuesday that the cabinet had discussed delaying Brexit by no less than eight weeks.
Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a firm critic of May’s handling of Brexit, said Wednesday that he would back a Brexit deal if it addresses his five key demands.
In a letter to the embattled PM, Corbyn said his party desired a UK-wide customs union and close alignment with the EU single market after the divorce.
He also called for “dynamic alignment” with the bloc on citizens’ rights and protections, “clear commitments” on future participation in various EU agencies and funding programs and “unambiguous agreements” on the terms of post-Brexit security arrangements with the bloc.
He made it clear that “simply seeking modifications” to the Irish border arrangements was not a sufficient response.
Corbyn said the EU would accept the UK’s demands for change if London changed its Brexit red lines.