UK government warns it might not hold pivotal Brexit vote
17 Mar 2019
Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage is pictured during 'Brexit Betrayal' march from Sunderland to London on Saturday. Scott Heppell/Reuters
LONDON: British leader Theresa May's government warned on Sunday that it might not have a planned Brexit vote this week unless it feels it could secure a win that avoids a lengthy delay to the EU pullout.
Britain has been paralysed by political inaction and chaos as it barrels toward the March 29 end of its 46-year involvement in the bloc without a plan.
Parliament has twice resoundingly rejected the separation terms May reached with the other 27 EU leaders last year.
She doggedly vowed to bring the lawmakers back by Wednesday for a third vote that − if it finally ended in success − would see her ask the EU for a "technical" Brexit delay until June.
But May warned on Sunday that another defeat would almost certainly require Britain to take part in European Parliament elections in May.
This would mean "we will not leave the EU for many months, if ever," May wrote in The Sunday Telegraph".
Two of her top ministers then warned that May might not even submit her deal for a third vote unless she feels she has sufficient support from her own party members who previously voted against.
"It would be difficult to justify having a vote if you knew you were going to lose it," International Trade Secretary Liam Fox told Sky News.
"We will only bring the deal back if we are confident that enough of our colleagues... are prepared to support it so that we can get it through parliament," finance minister Philip Hammond added on the BBC.
"I mean we are not just going to keep presenting it if we haven't moved the dial," Hammond said.
Some EU leaders have suggested postponing Brexit until the end of 2020.
A delay that long could give Britain time to decide to either keep much closer EU ties or have Brexit reversed in a new national poll − two options welcomed by a range of European officials.
The 27 EU leaders will meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday to discuss their Brexit options.