LONDON: Prime Minister Theresa May set out on Tuesday a “new deal” for Britain’s departure from the European Union, offering sweeteners to opposition parties in her fourth attempt to break an impasse in parliament over Brexit.
Three years since Britain voted to leave the EU and almost two months after the planned departure date, May is mounting a last bid to try to get the deeply divided parliament’s backing for a divorce deal and leave office with some kind of legacy.
The odds do not look good. Despite offering what she described as “significant further changes”, many lawmakers, hardened in their positions, have already decided not to vote next month for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, legislation which implements the terms of Britain’s departure.
“I say with conviction to every MP or every party: I have compromised, now I ask you to compromise,” she said.
“We have been given a clear instruction by the people we are supposed to represent, so help me find a way to honor that instruction, move our country and our politics and build the better future that all of us want to see.”
By offering the possibility of holding a second vote on her deal and a compromise on customs arrangements, May hopes to win over opposition Labour lawmakers, whose votes she needs to overcome resistance in her own Conservative Party.
But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party could not vote for the Withdrawal Bill, describing May’s new offer as “largely a rehash of the government’s position” in talks with the opposition which broke down last week.
She has also infuriated Brexit-supporting lawmakers, who have described a customs union with the EU as no Brexit at all.
Several leading Conservative eurosceptics such as former Brexit minister David Davis and Jacob Rees-Mogg said they would not vote for the bill in early June.
And Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which props up her government, said the “fatal flaws” of her original deal remained. They fear the divorce deal could see Northern Ireland split from the rest of the United Kingdom.