EU's Verhofstadt: EU must increase pressure on Britain over Brexit

Cornelia Mascio
Marzo 15, 2019

On Thursday, the UK Parliament voted in favour of delaying the UK's departure from the European Union which was scheduled to take place on March 29.

Postponing Brexit gives May some respite, amid a crisis that has shredded her authority and obliterated her control of a fractious Conservative minority government.

Wednesday night's vote on ruling out a no-deal Brexit exposed the level of disruption a vote on an amendment to a government motion could cause, when the Spelman amendment, which was created to remove reference to leaving without a deal remaining the default option, was passed by a slim majority of four, 312 to 308, altering the government's motion. Campaigners for a new referendum are divided over whether the time is right to push for a second Brexit vote.

May is unwilling to abandon her hard-won divorce deal with the European Union, which sets out the terms of Britain's withdrawal and the outline of future relations with the bloc. This option is likely to prove popular, since politicians on both sides of the Brexit debate fear time is running out to secure an orderly withdrawal by March 29. Parliament voted it down twice, and May looks set to put it to a third vote next week.

May also needs to win over the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which has so far refused to back her plan.

If the deal is not passed by then, the United Kingdom would need a longer extension, with reports that the United Kingdom is making contingency plans for European Parliament elections.

"It's still really hard to see how the numbers stack up for Theresa May, but she's giving it one more go", he said.

For the business community, including the entertainment industry, Thursday's vote does not change their immediate status but prolongs the uncertainty they have faced over the past three years, since the 2016 referendum in which a slim majority of British voters chose to pull their country out of the European Union.

However, the extension is not automatic, an EU Commission spokesman reiterated - all 27 of the remaining EU member states must unanimously approve it.

"Under no circumstances an extension in the dark!" With the approaching deadline intensifying fears that Britain could leave the bloc without a deal - a move that economists say could spark economic turmoil - the U.K. Parliament voted Wednesday to rule out the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

"I will tell you, I'm surprised at how badly it's all gone from the standpoint of a negotiation", Trump told reporters in the Oval Office as he met Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted Thursday he will appeal to EU leaders "to be open to a long extension if the United Kingdom finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus about it".

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