May faces renewed pressure to set out departure date - GulfToday

May faces renewed pressure to set out departure date

Brexit

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas poses in front of their Brexit campaign bus with supporters during in Brighton on Thursday. Agence France-Presse

British Prime Minister Theresa May will come under renewed pressure from senior members of her Conservative Party on Thursday to set out a clear timetable for her departure.

May’s Brexit deal has been rejected three times by parliament and weeks of talks with the opposition Labour Party, the idea of which were deeply unpopular with many Conservatives, have failed to find a consensus on the way forward.

Mired in Brexit deadlock and forced to delay Britain’s March 29 exit from the EU, May’s Conservatives suffered major losses in local elections this month and is trailing in opinion polls before the May 23 European Parliament elections.

The British leader plans to put her deal to a fourth vote in parliament in early June. While she has promised to step down after her agreement is approved by lawmakers, many in her party want her to make clear when she will quit if it isn’t.

“It’s now beyond time for the prime minister to accept that the game is up. Her premiership has failed, and her authority is shot,” Nick Timothy, her former chief of staff, wrote in the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

“Every day wasted from here makes life harder for whoever leads Britain into the future. We need to end this national humiliation, deliver Brexit, and save the Tories (Conservatives). The prime minister, I am sorry to say, must do her duty and stand aside.”

May is due to meet with the executive of her party’s influential 1922 Committee at around 1030 GMT on Thursday. The committee has demanded she set out a clear timetable for her departure in the event her deal is rejected again.

If she refuses, some want to change the rules over when she can be ousted. May survived a no confidence vote in December, and under current party rules cannot be challenged again for a year.

Brexit-supporting rebels in May’s Conservative Party said on Wednesday they would vote down her European Union divorce deal when she brings it back to parliament next month.

Britain had been due to leave the EU on March 29 but parliament has three times rejected the withdrawal agreement May struck with Brussels. The United Kingdom is now scheduled to leave, with or without a deal to smooth the exit, by Oct. 31.

Defeat in the vote would likely spell the end of May’s divorce deal and probably her premiership.

May will bring a Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB), which implements the departure terms, to parliament for a vote in the week beginning June 3, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said, just as US President Donald Trump begins a divisive state visit to Britain.

“I have talked to colleagues, some of whom voted for it last time, and they think it is dead and they will vote against it this time,” Peter Bone, a Conservative lawmaker and Brexit supporter, told Talk Radio. “It seems absurd to bring it back. It is the same thing again, again and again.”

May, who became prime minister in the chaos that followed the 2016 referendum in which Britons voted 52% to 48% to leave the EU, is under pressure from some of her own lawmakers to set a date for her departure.

As well as the Brexit deadlock, the Conservative Party suffered major losses in local elections this month and is trailing in opinion polls ahead of the May 23 EUropean Parliament elections.

Asked if she would resign if the bill was defeated, May told reporters she was sure Members of Parliament (MPs) would remember to respect the referendum result.

“When MPs come to look at that (bill), they will recognise that we have a duty in parliament to deliver on the result of the referendum and deliver Brexit,” she said.

Lawmakers from the upper house of parliament had earlier asked Barclay if this was “the last chance saloon” for May’s divorce deal.

“If the House of Commons does not approve the WAB, then the Barnier deal is dead in that form,” Barclay told them, referring to the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

Barclay said that would leave parliament with the choice of revoking the decision to leave the EU or exiting without a deal, the default position if no divorce agreement can be reached.

“If the House (of Commons) has not passed the Withdrawal Agreement Bill then there are growing voices in EUrope, not least the French, who want to move on to other issues,” he said.

Nearly three years after the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU, politicians still disagree about when, how or even if the divorce will take place.

Reuters