Returning to London, Britain’s May faces Mammoth task to change minds on Brexit
British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday began the mammoth struggle of persuading a deeply divided parliament to back her Brexit deal after an EU summit granted her more time but little to help change minds at home.
After a bruising day in Brussels, May secured a two-week reprieve to try to get the deal she negotiated in November through parliament at a third attempt or face a potentially chaotic departure from the European Union as soon as April 12.
EU leaders were clear that it was now up to the British parliament to decide the fate of Brexit — to leave with a deal in a couple of months, depart without an agreement, come up with a new plan or possibly remain in the bloc.
While the Brexit deadline may have moved from March 29, however, parliament shows no sign of budging.
In fact, incensed by comments from May on Wednesday night that pinned the blame for the Brexit chaos on them, many British lawmakers have now hardened their resistance to the deal she is due to bring back before them next week. In an appeal to lawmakers, May said in Brussels: “Last night I expressed my frustration. I know that MPs [members of parliament] are frustrated too. They have difficult jobs to do. I hope we can all agree, we are now at the moment of decision.”
She needs to change the minds of 75 more lawmakers to get her deal through after it was overwhelmingly rejected twice before. In a letter to British lawmakers on Friday, May hinted she might not hold a third vote on the deal at all if it was clear it would not be passed.
“If it appears there is not sufficient support to bring the deal back next week, or the House rejects it again, we can ask for another extension before April 12,” she wrote in the letter published on Twitter by a BBC reporter.
While EU leaders were keen to heap pressure on the British parliament, some — with the notable exception of France — suggested Britain could still win more time to prepare for a no-deal Brexit if lawmakers fail to approve the divorce deal by April 12.
‘Hope dies last’
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar summed up the mood in Brussels when he spoke of overwhelming Brexit fatigue.
European Council President Donald Tusk said: “The fate of Brexit is in the hands of our British friends. We are, as the EU, prepared for the worst but hope for the best. As you know, hope dies last.”
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