British Prime Minister Theresa May made another appeal to British MPs to back a Brexit deal, warning them that the country risks not leaving the European Union at all.
“Because Parliament has made clear it will stop the U.K. leaving without a deal, we now have a stark choice: leave the European Union with a deal or do not leave at all,” May said in a statement late Saturday.
“The longer this takes, the greater the risk of the U.K. never leaving at all,” she said. “It would mean letting the Brexit the British people voted for slip through our fingers … I will not stand for that.”
The prime minister is currently in talks with the opposition Labour Party to try to garner enough parliamentary support for a Brexit deal. The U.K. is set to leave the EU on April 12, but the prime minister has asked the EU for an extension until June 30. EU leaders are expected to discuss next steps at a special European Council summit on Wednesday.
The Sunday Times newspaper reported Sunday that May is drawing up plans to “rewrite the government’s withdrawal bill to enshrine a customs arrangement in law” in an effort to find common ground with Labour and reassure the party that any deal reached could not be torn up by May’s successor.
Downing Street did not comment on the report.
Speaking to Sky News on Sunday, Labour’s top legal policy chief Shami Chakrabarti said the PM hadn’t “moved an inch on her red lines.”
“It seems to me that this has been left so late in the day … it’s hard to imagine that we are going to make real progress now without either a general election or a second referendum on any deal she can get over the line in parliament,” she added.
In response to May’s statement, Tory MPs warned the PM would face overwhelming pressure to step down if the U.K.’s exit from the bloc is extended past the end of June and the U.K. has to participate in the European Parliament election in May.
House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom defended May’s decision to work with Labour in a column for the Telegraph published Saturday, warning that “standing in EU elections would be a national embarrassment, and makes leaving a matter of the deepest urgency.” A second referendum, she added, would be “the ultimate betrayal” of voters’ wishes.