March 23, 2019
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European Union

UK parliament to vote on delaying Brexit

London, Mar 14 (efe-epa).- The United Kingdom's parliament is on Thursday set to vote on whether the government should ask the European Union for permission to delay the country’s withdrawal from the bloc.

Conservative Party Prime Minister Theresa May has tabled a motion on delaying Brexit by three-months beyond the deadline of Mar. 29, after her proposed Brexit deall twice failed to get parliamentary approval.

Brexit could still go ahead on Mar. 29 if parliament approves May’s deal, which Brussels supports, before an EU leaders’ summit next week.

The vote in the House of Commons, the UK's lower legislative chamber, will be held on Thursday evening, after MPs overwhelmingly rejected May’s deal. They also rejected the scenario of the UK leaving the EU without a deal in place.

MPs are expected to request an extension of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which established a transition period of two years for a country to leave the EU.

If parliament approves the prime minister’s deal by Mar. 20, Brexit could be delayed by three months, until June 30.

But on Wednesday, May warned that if her deal, which has already been rejected twice, does not get through parliament, a longer extension – which would need the unanimous approval of the other 27 EU member states –would be required, meaning the UK would be forced to participate in European Parliament elections in May.

Donald Tusk, the European Council's president, said he would urge EU leaders at the upcoming summit to back a long extension.

"During my consultations ahead of the European Council, I will appeal to the EU27 to be open to a long extension if the UK finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus around it," he wrote on Twitter.

The main sticking point for UK lawmakers in the talks is what is known as the Irish backstop.

EU leaders have been adamant on the need to avoid a hard border in Ireland, something that many people fear would undermine the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which ended decades of strife in Northern Ireland between pro-British unionists and Irish nationalists.

No hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland would mean the UK having a customs border on its territory, a scenario that has been roundly rejected by parliament.

Juncker was emphatic on Monday that the EU was done talking.

"There will be no third chance. There will be no further interpretations of the interpretations, no further assurances of the re-assurances" he said.

UK voters narrowly chose to leave the EU in a June 2016 referendum, and was supposed to have agreed on the terms of its withdrawal with Brussels before Mar. 29.

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