Theresa May makes case against another Brexit referendum
With March deadline looming, no-deal Brexit a possibility due to opposition to May's withdrawal draft
Prime Minister Theresa May said Monday she intended to reschedule a delayed vote in U.K. Parliament on her Brexit plan in the week starting on Jan. 14.
"Many members of this House are concerned that we need to take a decision soon," May told lawmakers in the House of Commons. "We intend to return to the 'Meaningful Vote' debate in the week commencing seventh of January, and hold the vote the following week."
Last week, May postponed a vote on the plan in the face of deep opposition within her own Conservative Party. She then survived a confidence vote and sought last-minute changes to a Brexit agreement reached with Brussels last month.
With the European Union offering little in the way of concessions to win lawmakers over, an increasing number of politicians are calling for a second referendum.
May said a second Brexit referendum would do "irreparable damage" to politics and "break faith" with the British people who narrowly backed leaving the EU at a 2016 referendum.
That increases the risk of Britain leaving without a deal in less than four months, a scenario some businesses fear would be catastrophic for the world's fifth largest economy.
'A month has been wasted': Corbyn
"The countries, workers and businesses are increasingly anxious," said Opposition Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn, who on Monday tabled a non-confidence motion on the prime minister — a largely symbolic move of censure.
While a defeat on the motion would not topple the government nor force an election, it could further weaken May. No date was immediately set for the confidence vote.
With regards to her visits with EU leaders last week, Corbyn said: "It cannot hide the cold reality that she achieved nothing."
Corbyn called the delay until January unacceptable.
"We will not let her cynically run down the clock to create the false choice between her botched deal and no deal," he said. "It is disgraceful that a month has been wasted."
The political and economic uncertainty over Brexit is having an impact, with data on Monday showing a drop in consumer spending, falling house prices and growing pessimism in household finances.
"Let us not break faith with the British people by trying to stage another referendum," May will tell lawmakers, according to extracts of her statement released in advance.
"Another vote which would do irreparable damage to the integrity of our politics, because it would say to millions who trusted in democracy, that our democracy does not deliver. Another vote which would likely leave us no further forward than the last," she will say.
May returns to Parliament to update lawmakers on Brexit after a week in which she cancelled a vote on her deal because it was set to be defeated and survived an attempt by some of her own lawmakers to oust her.
May used a visit to Brussels last week to call on EU leaders to offer assurances over the so-called Northern Irish "backstop" — an insurance policy to prevent the return of a hard border between the British province and EU-member Ireland that its critics fear will tie Britain to the bloc in the long term.
But while EU leaders said they were willing to help May, they warned the prime minister she could not renegotiate the deal agreed to earlier this year.
On Monday, however, May said the EU leaders "could not have been clearer" that they also don't want a permanent Irish backstop.
With files from The Associated Press