(Brexit) Theresa May gets breathing space in vote to delay divorce

Business | 15 Mar 2019 9:36 am

In a stalemate over Brexit, British politicians have chosen to delay it.

After weeks of political gridlock, Parliament voted yesterday to seek to postpone the country’s departure from the European Union, a move that will likely avert a chaotic withdrawal on the scheduled exit date of March 29.

With Brexit due in 15 days and no divorce deal yet approved, the House of Commons voted 413-202 to ask the bloc to put off Britain’s exit until at least June 30. The official result was initially announced as 412-202, but was later amended to 413 in the official voting list.

The vote gives Prime Minister Theresa May some breathing space, but is still humbling for a leader who has spent two years telling Britons they were leaving the bloc on March 29.

Power to approve or reject the extension lies with the EU, which has signaled that it will only allow a delay if Britain either approves a divorce deal or makes a fundamental shift in its approach to Brexit. In a historic irony, almost three years after Britain voted to leave the EU, its future is now in the bloc’s hands.

May is likely to ask EU leaders for an extension at a March 21-22 summit of the bloc in Brussels.

The European Commission said the bloc would consider any request, "taking into account the reasons for and duration of a possible extension.”

During an Oval Office meeting with the visiting Prime Minister of Ireland, President Donald Trump weighed in on Britain's ongoing debate over leaving the European Union, saying Brexit is "tearing the country apart."

May was forced to consider a Brexit delay after lawmakers twice rejected her EU divorce deal and also ruled out, in principle, leaving the bloc without an agreement. Withdrawing without a deal could mean major disruptions for businesses and people in the U.K. and the 27 remaining countries.

By law, Britain will leave the EU on March 29, with or without a deal, unless it cancels Brexit or secures a delay.-AP

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