Irish PM Says EU Has Taken Control of Timeline: Brexit Update

Theresa May

Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

Theresa May plans to hold a third vote on her Brexit deal next week as well as giving members of Parliament a chance to vote on alternatives to her plan. She has two weeks to find a way forward after the European Union postponed exit day.

Read More: Lonely Dinner in Brussels Gives May Vital Brexit Breathing Space

Key Developments:

  • Brexit day extended to April 12
  • Government plans to put May’s deal to Parliament on Tuesday or Wednesday
  • May’s position at home is looking increasingly fragile
  • Another summit will be called before April 11
  • Clark, Kwarteng say MPs to vote on Brexit options next week

Labour Proposes Votes on Brexit Options (5:40 p.m.)

The main opposition Labour Party said Friday it proposed an amendment for debate on Monday that would seek to put Parliament in control of the Brexit process by instructing the government to make time for votes on alternatives to Theresa May’s divorce deal.

Options cited by Labour include the party’s alternative Brexit plan, the so-called Common Market 2.0 plan, staying in a customs union with the EU, and a public vote.

“I am convinced that a sensible alternative deal can be agreed by Parliament, be negotiated with the EU and bring the public together, whether they voted leave or remain,” leader Jeremy Corbyn said in the statement.

Read more: Here Are the Ways U.K. Parliament Can Take Control of Brexit

Clark: Government will Timetable Votes on Options (4:45 p.m.)

Business Secretary Greg Clark told the BBC that there’s no need for MPs to try to create time for so-called indicative votes on Brexit options, because the government will provide time in Parliament if May’s deal is rejected again.

Clark referred to Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington’s pledge on March 13 to that effect.

“The commitment that the government has made seems to me very clear, that the government will provide that,” he said. “So there’s no reason why the government should be forced to do something that it is committed to do anyway.”

DUP Criticizes May Over Summit (4:30 p.m.)

The DUP doesn’t sound like a party about to turn around and support Theresa May’s Brexit deal. In an emailed statement Friday, Deputy leader Nigel Dodds accused the prime minister of missing an opportunity at this week’s EU summit to put forward alternative proposals — especially as negotiations with the bloc “inevitably go down to the wire.”

“The government has been far too willing to capitulate before securing the necessary changes which would get an agreement through the House of Commons,” Dodds said. “That failure is all the more disappointing and inexcusable given the clear divisions and arguments which became evident amongst EU member states when faced with outcomes they don’t like.”

Dodds reiterated that the DUP, which props up May’s government, won’t accept a deal which “poses a long-term risk to the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom.”

MPs to Get Free Vote, Says Minister (4 p.m.)

Brexit Minister Kwasi Kwarteng told members of parliament they would likely be given the freedom to vote as they like, rather than following party discipline, in non-binding votes next week aimed at finding a way forward for Brexit.

“Obviously, if the House is asked to decide a way forward, it would be surprising if those votes were not free votes,” Kwarteng said on Friday.

Parliament is expected to vote on options including staying in a customs union or holding a second referendum.

Leaders Look to U.K. Parliament for Clarity (3:50 p.m.)

EU leaders will come back together again before April 11 and leaders signaled they’re looking forward to what potential compromise options the U.K. government throws up.

Parliament is due to start voting next week on possible alternatives to May’s plan.

“We will of course meet again before this date, surely also with the British prime minister,” Merkel said. “We will then have to see what the voting results of the U.K. parliament are, because there are numerous options about which the parliament can vote.”

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar also noted that the extension opened the way for the so-called indicative votes.

Read more: Here Are the Ways U.K. Parliament Can Take Control of Brexit

German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised Theresa May’s efforts and energy in agreeing an exit deal with the EU.

“She is fighting for that, and I find that remarkable,” Merkel told a news conference in Brussels. “And she also gave the impression last night in the meeting with us that she continues fighting for that.”

Irish PM Says EU Took Control of Timeline (3:20 p.m.)

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said the bloc has taken control of the Brexit timeline from the British, while also cutting the U.K. “some slack.”

Now the path is open for Parliament to hold non-binding votes on the way ahead, and he wouldn’t rule out the U.K. coming back for an extension of nine to 12 months or longer.

As leaders hashed out the terms of the short extension last night, there were difference, Varadkar said, as some countries “are sick of this.”

Tusk Says Preparing for Worst, Hoping for Best (3:15 p.m.)

EU Council President Donald Tusk said the bloc is preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best on Brexit. “The fate of Brexit is in the hands of our British friends. We are prepared for the worst but hope for the best. As you know, hope dies last,” he told reporters.

He also noted that revoking Article 50 remained an option, and it was the U.K.’s prerogative. Tusk, who has made no secret of the fact he laments the U.K.’s departure, told a British journalist: “I am more pro-British than you.”

Former Minister Says May Can’t Last Long (1:40 p.m.)

Former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said she thinks Theresa May doesn’t have long left as prime minister, whether she gets her deal approved by Parliament or not.

Even if May delivers Brexit, “she can’t be the person to lead phase two” of the negotiations, which will focus on future trading arrangements, Morgan said on Friday in an interview.

If a third meaningful vote on May’s deal doesn’t go well, “I cannot see how her withdrawal agreement can be voted for again,” Morgan said. She added that Parliament would then try to find a different path and May “cannot hang around’’ to negotiate that.

Cancel-Brexit Petition Passes 3 Million Names (1:20 p.m.)

The petition calling for the government to stop Brexit by revoking Article 50 passed 3 million signatures on Friday morning.

Read more: Stop Brexit Petition Passes Two Million Names as Delay Looms

Government Still Talking to DUP on Brexit (1:15 p.m.)

Theresa May’s spokesman, James Slack, told reporters discussions with the Northern Irish DUP, which props up the government, are ongoing ahead of the expected third vote on the prime minister’s Brexit deal next week. May will also continue talks with colleagues over the weekend, Slack said.

He also pointed out that it was up to Speaker John Bercow whether to accept another vote on the deal, adding that the government hopes the EU’s approval of assurances on the backstop negotiated between May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker ahead of the last vote would mean Bercow allows it.

Shifting the Brexit deadline will also require secondary legislation to be approved by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, Slack said. Speaking in Parliament, Brexit minister Kwasi Kwarteng said the government would submit a motion to that effect early next week.

Next Vote on Deal Likely Tuesday or Wednesday (10:50 a.m.)

According to a U.K. official, the government is planning to bring back Theresa May’s Brexit deal to Parliament next week, most likely on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Meanwhile in Parliament, Brexit minister Kwasi Kwarteng told MPs the government is committed to holding another vote next week.


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— With assistance by Jess Shankleman, Gregory Viscusi, and Alex Morales

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