By Nawal Sayed
CAIRO, Feb. 12 (SEE) – British parliament would not be asked to vote on a revised Brexit deal this week as Prime Minster Theresa May needed more time to negotiate with the European Union, a spokeswoman for May’s office said in a statement following May’s weekly meeting with her cabinet of ministers.
The spokeswoman stressed that May is seeking changes to the deal she agreed with the European Union last year, after lawmakers rejected it largely due to concerns over an insurance policy aimed at avoiding the return of border controls on the island of Ireland.
A few hours before that statement, May told British lawmakers that they must hold their nerve over Brexit to force the EU to accept changes to the divorce deal that would pave the way for an orderly exit.
The United Kingdom is on course to leave the European Union on March 29 without a deal unless May can convince the bloc to amend the divorce deal she agreed in November and then sell it to skeptical British lawmakers.
British lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected May’s withdrawal deal last month, with the major sticking point being the Irish ‘backstop’ – an insurance policy to prevent the return of a hard border between the British province of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.
Critics say the policy could leave Britain subject to EU rules for years or even indefinitely after leaving the bloc.
The EU says the backstop is vital to avoiding the return of border controls in Ireland and has refused to reopen the Brexit divorce deal, though May insists she can get legally binding changes to replace the most contentious parts of the backstop.
The British parliament is set to hold a debate on Brexit on Feb. 14 but with just 45 days until Britain leaves the bloc, no date has yet been set for another “meaningful” vote on May’s deal.
Opponents of Brexit argue May is deliberately delaying so lawmakers will be faced with the option of backing her agreement or leaving without a deal, a disorderly exit that businesses fear will cause widespread damage to the economy and jobs.
“It’s not running down the clock. The meaningful vote will come back just as soon as it possibly can,” the leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, told BBC radio.
She added necessary legislation needed to ensure a smooth Brexit would be in place, amid fears parliament was running out of time to approve it.
As companies and governments across Europe step up preparations for the turmoil of a no-deal exit, diplomats and officials said the United Kingdom now faces three main options: a no-deal exit, a last-minute deal or a delay to Brexit.