British Prime Minister Theresa May was under pressure yesterday to scrap a planned vote on her Brexit blueprint, and to resign, after her attempt at compromise got the thumbs-down from both her own Conservative Party and opposition lawmakers. May plans to ask Parliament to vote next month on a bill implementing Britain's departure from the European Union.
Lawmakers have already rejected May's divorce deal with the EU three times, and Britain's long-scheduled departure date of March 29 passed with the country still in the 28-nation bloc. In a last-ditch bid to secure support for her Brexit plan, May on Tuesday announced concessions including a promise to give Parliament a vote on whether to hold a new referendum on Britain's EU membership. But opposition Labour Party lawmakers dismissed the offer as too little too late, and pro-Brexit Conservatives accused her of capitulating to pro-EU demands.
May's offer comes as Britain votes in EU elections today with the two main parties trailing behind the Brexit Party and the pro-EU Liberal Democrats, according to polls. The latest YouGov survey showed Eurosceptic populist Nigel Farage's new Brexit Party claiming 37 percent of votes, with Labour in third on 19 percent and the Tories lagging in fifth place with just seven percent. "If we win big on Thursday, we will kill off any prospect of parliament forcing a second referendum upon us because they know they would lose!" Farage told supporters at a final rally Tuesday. May pitched her "new Brexit deal" as MPs" "last chance" to end political gridlock that has already delayed Britain's departure from the bloc past its original March deadline and prompted public anger.
The government is aiming for the law to be approved by the time parliament's summer recess begins on July 20, which would let the country leave at the end of that month, as long as lawmakers reject a second referendum. Otherwise the process could be delayed until Oct. 31, the deadline set by the EU, or even later if its leaders grant Britain another postponement.