May promises Brexit vote by Feb 27 to avert revolt

By BLOOMBERG

LONDON • UK Prime Minister (PM) Theresa May (picture) will ask Parliament this week to give her more time to renegotiate her Brexit deal with the European Union (EU), promising lawmakers a further chance to take control of the process before the clock runs out, according to an official with knowledge of her plans.

With a vote due on Feb 14 and no prospect of agreement, May will ask Parliament to reaffirm its desire to remove the contentious Irish backstop clause from the Withdrawal Agreement. She’ll say that, if she hasn’t brought a new deal to Parliament by Feb 27, there will then be another opportunity to vote, according to the official, who declined to be identified.

The PM is aiming to avoid a situation where MPs fear that, unless they vote to take control of the process and order her to seek an extension of EU negotiations, they will have lost their chance to avoid Britain leaving without a deal. A similar promise at the end of January thwarted a cross-party attempt to take over the timetable, led by Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Conservative Nick Boles. It is that promise that led to this week’s vote.

The wording of the motion that May will lay out on Thursday, asking Parliament to back her negotiation, will be closely read.

Although Parliament asked for the backstop to be removed, May has said since that the backstop will remain, and that Parliament merely asked for it to be altered. — Bloomberg