Theresa May seeks more time from MPs for Brexit deal

Swiss Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin right and British Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox left react after signing a trade agreement in Bern Switzerland Monday Feb. 11 2019. Parmelin and Fox signed a bilateral trade agreement reg

Swiss Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin right and British Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox left react after signing a trade agreement in Bern Switzerland Monday Feb. 11 2019. Parmelin and Fox signed a bilateral trade agreement reg

As we talked about late on Monday, there has been a sense building in Westminster that the prime minister is, maybe by accident, maybe increasingly by design, looking to nearly the last possible minute for the definitive Brexit vote.

Critics say the policy could leave Britain subject to European Union rules for years or even indefinitely after leaving the bloc.

She faced accusations that she's deliberately running down the clock in order to blackmail Parliament into backing her divorce package under the threat of a chaotic, no-deal split that could hit the pound by as much as 25 per cent.

"I believe we can reach a deal that this House can support", Mrs May told parliament.

Mr Robbins suggested the strategy would be to tell the Commons in the final week of March that if an amended version of the government's deal wasn't passed, talks would have to be extended, potentially for a long time, ITV reported on Tuesday. "We now all need to hold our nerve to get the changes this house requires and deliver Brexit on time", May said in her statement at the House of Commons.

But the opposition was having none of this.

"Our country is facing the biggest crisis in a generation and yet the prime minister continues to recklessly run down the clock", Corbyn said.

May told ministers that parliament, which last month roundly rejected her Brexit deal, would not vote on a revised deal this week as she needed more time to negotiate with the EU.

Labour's demands include a permanent, UK-wide customs union with the EU, close alignment with the single market, guarantees on the protection of workers' rights, participation in EU agencies and funding programmes, and more guarantees on security arrangements. The free flow of people and goods across the frontier has been an important measure upholding Northern Ireland's peace deal.

Senior officials were in Dublin and Strasbourg on Tuesday to seek a way through the impasse, she said.

Meanwhile, the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said on Monday the bloc was "waiting for clarity and movement from the United Kingdom" as negotiations continued in Brussels.

May has also held talks with Labour, the UK's main opposition party, which said it could support a Brexit deal if the government promised to seek a close relationship with the European Union after Britain leaves.

In an appearance on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Barclay declined to comment on Robbins's comments, which he said were overheard in a "noisy bar", but added that an extension was not the government's plan and would not only be a decision for the United Kingdom government.

She said she was prepared to speed up other parts of the ratification process of the Brexit deal if time gets too tight to pass legislation before exit day - a move some interpreted as a sign she was willing to keep negotiating until the last moment.

"A deal is the way that we will actually address those concerns in parliament and ensure we give businesses the confidence they need", he said.

"It is a negotiation".

No 10 insists Mrs May will hold a vote on her deal as soon as possible.

Growth slumped to 0.2 percent last quarter as Brexit worries hammered investment by companies and a global economic slowdown weighed on trade. On Monday, figures released by the Office for National Statistics showed the economy shrunk by 0.4 per cent in December and that it grew by 1.4 per cent a year ago, the slowest rate since 2009.

"It is in the interests of everyone, arguably everywhere ... that a Brexit solution that works for all is found in the weeks ahead".

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