Brexit update: May seeks time for EU talks, vows February 27 vote
UK Prime Minister Theresa May wants more time to renegotiate her Brexit deal with the European Union (EU) and in return is promising lawmakers a further chance to take control of the process before the clock runs out.
With a vote due February 14 and no prospect of agreement, May will ask Parliament this week to reaffirm its desire to remove the contentious Irish backstop clause from current deal, according to an official, who declined to be identified.
If she hasn't brought a new deal to Parliament by February 27, she'll say there will then be another opportunity to vote, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said in a BBC interview.
Reaching a deal is "profoundly" in the interest of the UK, Brokenshire told BBC Television's "Andrew Marr Show", but it is also important to give a sense of clarity and purpose, which he believes May's new vote pledge will do.
"The government will commit that if the meaningful vote, in other words the deal coming back, has not happened by 27 February, then we would allow a further motion - votable in parliament - to take place, to give that sense of assurance as to the process moving forward," said Austria's Foreign Affairs Minister Karin Kneissl.
She has pointed to the risks already facing British exporters as the UK draws closer to the March 29 exit date. With the UK yet to roll over the majority of the beneficial trade terms around the globe it gets through EU membership, goods being readied for dispatch that take as long as six weeks to reach destinations in Asia could end up in quarantine or face disputes over who pays any new customs duties.
Chief Secretary to the UK Treasury Liz Truss told Sky there won't be any need to extend Article 50 - which sets the deadline for leaving - because lawmakers will reach an agreement in time.
"In any negotiations, any piece of work, as the deadline approaches, minds get focused and a deal gets done. Extending the deadline, that doesn't create any new information, all that does is delay things so that would be a very bad idea," she said.
She also added that the UK is prepared to leave without a deal, should it be "absolutely necessary".
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair said leaving the EU without a deal could be devastating for the Northern Ireland peace process and that a second referendum on Brexit might still happen.