Published: Thu, March 21, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

Brexit: Second EU referendum ‘not what people want’, says Theresa May

Brexit: Second EU referendum ‘not what people want’, says Theresa May

In an uncompromising statement from Downing Street, she criticised MPs for holding up the deal and for failing to say what they did want.

But the deal has twice been rejected twice by hefty margins in Britain's Parliament, amid opposition from pro-Brexit and pro-EU lawmakers.

Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University London, said that while Tusk's move appears to indicate a binary choice now facing MPs to either back May's deal in order to secure an Article 50 extension or risk a "no deal" Brexit, it could help her in the arduous task of building support for her deal.

"You want this stage of the Brexit process to be over and done with". I agree. I am on your side.

"But as prime minister I am not prepared to delay Brexit any further than 30 June".

She asked for a delay until June 30, and said she wanted to set out her reasons to European Union leaders at a summit in Brussels on Thursday.

"If that [delay] vote is passed, the extension will give the house time to consider the withdrawal agreement bill", May told the House of Commons.

"Even if the hope for a final success may seem frail, even illusory, and although Brexit fatigue is increasingly visible and justified, we can not give up seeking until the very last moment a positive solution", Tusk said in Brussels. As a result, we will not now leave on time with a deal on March 29.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that "if the (EU) Council is to decide on extending the deadline for Britain, then we would like to know: Why, why, why?"

And in Paris, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had a tough message. Her troubles deepened when the speaker of the House of Commons ruled earlier this week that she can't ask Parliament to vote on the deal again unless it is substantially changed.

May told Tusk that despite the ruling "it remains my intention to bring the deal back to the House".

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) during a news conference at the East Front of the Capitol, on February 7, 2019, in Washington. Ocasio-Cortez is also underwater in her net favorable ratings among men (-24), whites (-24) and adults aged 55 and older (-22).

European Council President Donald Tusk said it would be possible to grant Britain a short postponement if parliament next week backs Ms May's divorce agreement, which it has already been voted down twice. "Do they want to leave without a deal?"

She herself told a rowdy session of parliament on Wednesday that she could not countenance the prospect of a long delay - which could give time for notional alternative approaches to emerge, but would infuriate Brexit supporters in her own party.

The pound fell on the uncertainty surrounding the potential delay and the fact that a no-deal Brexit remained possible, but recovered ground late in the evening.

In her address Wednesday night, the prime minister ruled out the possibility of a second referendum on leaving the European Union, which is supported by the opposition Labour Party.

An added wrinkle to May's request is the scheduled May 23-26 election for the European Parliament.

The loss of Britain for the EU is the biggest blow yet to more than 60 years of effort to forge European unity after two world wars, though the 27 other members of the bloc have shown surprising unity during the tortuous negotiations.

Britain believes it won't have to participate if its scheduled exit date is pushed to June 30, because the newly elected European Parliament is not due to convene until July.

I have writen to Tusk to request an extension to 30th June.

However, the European Commission advised EU leaders that it would be preferable to either have a shorter delay to May 23 - when voting begins in European Parliament elections - or a much longer one, until at least the end of 2019. "If it is the case that there is an extension, this does not actually take no deal off the table".

She started her statement by saying it was "of great personal regret" that Britain is not leaving on March 29. "And I think even God sometimes reaches a limit to his patience".

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