Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 27 May 2019

UK enters crucial Brexit week with no deal in sight

Theresa May faces heavy defeat on Tuesday with a Brexit delay the most likely outcome

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Brexit might not happen if it is delayed beyond March 29. Reuters
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Brexit might not happen if it is delayed beyond March 29. Reuters

British Prime Minister Theresa May is entering a crucial week in which she faces a second damaging defeat in Parliament over her Brexit plans.

Mrs May’s proposals for leaving the EU seem certain to be rejected by members, creating new uncertainty over attempts to leave the world’s largest trading bloc in less than three weeks.

The anticipated defeat on Tuesday is likely to prompt some MPs to try to prevent the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal in place and delay Brexit.

In an attempt to rally MPs to the government’s cause, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Sunday that a delay could lead to Brexit never happening.

“We have an opportunity now to leave on March 29 or shortly thereafter, and it’s important that we grasp that opportunity because there is wind in the sails of people trying to stop Brexit,” Mr Hunt told the BBC. “We are in very perilous waters.”

Mrs May was dealt an unprecedented defeat by 230 votes in January over the agreement struck after months of difficult discussions with EU negotiators.

She said would return to Brussels to seek further concessions but has been repeatedly rebuffed by senior EU officials.

Two Eurosceptic politicians wrote in The Sunday Telegraph that her deal in its current form would be defeated by a “sizeable proportion” of her party and allies from the Democratic Unionist Party on Tuesday.

Some ministers said that she might have to quit to save Brexit.

Many MPs claim her agreement could leave Britain subject to EU rules indefinitely and split Northern Ireland – the only part of the UK that would have a land border with the EU – from the rest of the country.

France's EU affairs minister Nathalie Loiseau told France Inter radio that she did not see any value in extending the window for talks.

“More time to do what?” Ms Loiseau said.

Updated: March 11, 2019 09:35 AM

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