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UK Prime Minister Theresa May lays out plan for extension of Article 50

UK Prime Minister Theresa May lays out plan for extension of Article 50
By Rachael Kennedy
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After meeting with her cabinet, the British PM laid out plans for parliament to vote in March on potentially extending Article 50


UK Prime Minister Theresa May has laid out plans for a possible extension to Article 50 to avoid the UK leaving the European Union at the end of March without a deal.

Such an extension would first require MPs to vote to reject both the prime minister's current deal and a no-deal scenario.

Speaking to the House of Commons on Tuesday, May acknowledged fellow ministers' worries that "time is running out," but maintained that she believed a no-deal Brexit would not be as disastrous as predicted.

"I believe, if we have to, we will ultimately make a success of a no-deal," the prime minister said, amid loud scoffs from the House.

The steps toward the contested extension were outlined in May's "three commitments," a three-step process planned for mid-March.

The Three Commitments

  1. MPs will take part in a meaningful vote on March 12 over May's current Brexit deal

  2. Should her deal be rejected, MPs will then be invited to vote on March 13 on whether the UK should leave the EU without a deal

  3. A rejection of both of the above would lead MPs to a third vote on March 14 on the extension of Article 50

However, May warned that an extension, should it happen, would be a one-off situation and would be brief, creating "a much sharper cliff edge."

The only way to avoid leaving the EU without a deal would be to agree a deal or to revoke Article 50 altogether, the latter of which "is something I will not do," the prime minister said.

Second referendum?

May rejected proposals of a second referendum, saying it would take the country "back to square one."

"This House voted to trigger Article 50 and this House has a duty to deliver on the result," she added.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is due to announce his backing of a second referendum, said in response to May's speech that he would expect a public vote, should May's deal pass parliament's meaningful vote.

READ MORE: UK opposition to back second referendum on Brexit deal

Parliament divisions

In response to May's speech, some MPs pointed out the huge divisions of opinion over May's conduct in negotiations with the EU.

Anna Soubry, a former Conservative MP now sitting as an independent, pointed out these divisions through recent resignations.

"Some of us that used to sit over there now sit over here," she said, adding her belief that May had acted in the interests of the Conservative Party, rather than in the interests of the UK.

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