Prime Minister Theresa May says there isn’t yet enough support for her to put her Brexit deal to a vote in Parliament for a third time, but she will continue talks with lawmakers to try to get their backing.
May battled Monday to keep control of Britain’s exit from the European Union as some in her party called on her to quit and Parliament plotted to wrest the Brexit process away from her government.
“I continue to believe that the right path forward is for the United Kingdom to leave the EU as soon as possible with a deal, now on May 22,” she told Parliament on Monday.
“But it is with great regret that I have had to conclude that as things stand there is still not sufficient support in the House [of Commons] to bring back the deal for a third meaningful vote.”
May was not throwing up a white flag, indicating she hoped to bring another vote to the House, but time is running short.
Nearly three years after the 2016 EU membership referendum, it was still unclear how, when or even if Brexit will take place.
As speculation swirled around May’s future over the weekend, Parliament prepared to try to take control of the Brexit process from the government in a series of votes due Monday evening.
May’s divided cabinet of senior ministers met earlier in the day to discuss a way forward, though contradictory reports of the discussions — which are supposed to remain private — were swiftly published on Twitter.
Amid the chaos, it was unclear when May would bring her divorce deal back to Parliament. The deal May negotiated with the EU was defeated in Parliament by 149 votes on March 12 and by 230 votes on Jan. 15.
“We will only bring the vote back if we believe that we would be in a position to win it,” May’s spokesperson said before her confirmation that the votes were still not there.
There had been some speculation another vote would take place on Tuesday.
Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn told May there was no basis for bringing her twice-defeated Brexit deal back for a third try, a Labour Party spokesperson said.
Corbyn and May met for more than hour in Parliament and had a “frank and comprehensive exchange of views,” the spokesperson said, adding that Corbyn did not accept May’s suggestion that the withdrawal agreement exit deal could be separated from the declaration on the U.K.-EU future relationship.
“The government’s approach to Brexit has now become a national embarrassment,” Corbyn subsequently told Parliament.
“Despite the clearly expressed will of this House, we will still face the prospect of a disastrous no-deal Brexit.”
May needs support of DUP, others
May had to delay Britain’s original March 29 departure date because of the deadlock in London. Now, the country will leave the EU on May 22 if May’s deal is approved by Parliament this week. If not, Britain will have until April 12 to offer a new plan or decide to leave without a treaty.
To get the deal passed, she must win over at least 75 MPs — dozens of rebels in her Conservative Party, some opposition Labour Party MPs and the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up her minority government.
May had a call with DUP leader Arlene Foster after the cabinet meeting, but a party spokesperson said he did not see the DUP supporting the deal.
Days before March 29, British ministers and lawmakers were still publicly discussing an array of options including leaving with May’s deal, with no deal, revoking the Article 50 divorce papers, calling another referendum or going for a closer relationship with the EU.
The EU believes a no-deal Brexit is increasingly likely, EU officials said.
“We don’t want a no-deal Brexit, we’d much rather have the Withdrawal Agreement, but if it is to be a no deal, let’s do it quickly,” the EU official said of the bloc’s approach.
Some backbenchers frustrated
Some British lawmakers publicly called for May to go.
“The prime minister does not have the confidence of the parliamentary party,” said Andrew Bridgen, a Conservative lawmaker who supports Brexit.
“She clearly doesn’t have the confidence of the Cabinet and she certainly doesn’t have the confidence of our members out there in the country.”
May survived a vote on her leadership in December, and told the party she would not lead them into the next election.
The United Kingdom, which voted 52-48 per cent to leave the EU in the referendum, remains deeply divided over Brexit.
Hundreds of thousands of people marched through London on Saturday to demand another referendum and on Sunday May called Brexit-supporting rebel lawmakers to her Chequers residence in an attempt to break the deadlock. It was unclear what was agreed, if anything.
MPs were expected to vote on possible ways forward on Monday. Conservative lawmaker Oliver Letwin’s amendment seeks to change the rules of Parliament on March 27 to provide time for lawmakers to debate and vote on different options.
One way to counter Parliament would be for May to try to offer her own version of indicative votes. The prospect of a softer Brexit would also increase pressure on the Brexit-supporting lawmakers in her party to get behind her deal.
This story originally appeared on CBC