PM May offers compromise, seeks talks to break Brexit logjam
Facing crunch time, Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday offered to move her stated position on Brexit widely seen as intransigent, to seek another extension to Article 50 and hold talks with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to resolve the logjam.
Making a statement in Downing Street after a seven-hour cabinet meeting, the politically hobbled May by seeking Labour’s support appeared to have lost hope of winning over rebels within the her party as well as the Democratic Unionist Party that is propping up her minority government.
“So today I am taking action to break the logjam: I am offering to sit down with the Leader of the Opposition and to try to agree a plan - that we would both stick to - to ensure that we leave the European Union and that we do so with a deal”, she said, offering a compromise.
Labour has already made its position known it would agree to support the withdrawal package on the condition that it is put before a ‘confirmatory referendum’ in which the British public would be asked to accept or reject it.
Arriving at the conclusion that London needs another extension of Article 50, May said it would be “as short as possible” and would end when the withdrawal package is passed in the House of Commons. However, it is up to Brussels to agree to another extension or not.
There is much impatience in Brussels and other European capitals over the lack of decision in London. Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, tweeted after May’s statement: “Even if, after today, we don’t know what the end result will be, let us be patient.”
May hopes to resolve the issue soon so that the UK does not need to participate in the May 23 elections to the European Parliament. EU leaders have stated that any further extension beyond the current deadline of April 12 would need participation in the elections. But May is keen to avoid doing so.
“This is a difficult time for everyone. Passions are running high on all sides of the argument. But we can and must find the compromises that will deliver what the British people voted for. This is a decisive moment in the story of these islands. And it requires national unity to deliver the national interest”, May said.
Her statement prompted renewed criticism in Westminster, with many seeing it as an attempt at kicking the Brexit can down the road.
Liberal Democrats leader Vince Cable said her statement could be “a case of piling more logs onto the logjam”, insisting that Brexit in which ever shape or form would be “hugely damaging for the country”.
He said: “ Theresa May now finally seems to be accepting that she cannot get support for her deal, though her identifying Jeremy Corbyn as a source of support for Brexit is less surprising.
“The way forward, to break the impasse, is for the prime minister to compromise and support a People’s Vote, with the option to stay in the European Union”.