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UK Leader to Lawmakers: Back my Deal or Face Lengthy Delay

Sunday Mar 17, 2019
In this Tuesday March 12, 2019 file photo Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May
In this Tuesday March 12, 2019 file photo Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May  (Source:Associated Press)

British Prime Minister Theresa May warned Sunday that it would be "a potent symbol of Parliament's collective political failure" if a Brexit delay meant that the U.K. has to take part in May's European elections — almost three years after Britons voted to leave the bloc.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, May also cautioned that if lawmakers failed to back her deal before Thursday's European Council summit, "we will not leave the EU for many months, if ever."

"If the proposal were to go back to square one and negotiate a new deal, that would mean a much longer extension ... The idea of the British people going to the polls to elect MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) three years after voting to leave the EU hardly bears thinking about," she wrote.

May is expected to try to win Parliament's approval of her withdrawal agreement for the third time this week. After months of political deadlock, lawmakers voted on Thursday to seek to postpone Brexit.

That will likely avert a chaotic withdrawal on the scheduled exit date of March 29 — though power to approve or reject an extension lies with the EU. The European Commission has said the bloc would consider any request, "taking into account the reasons for and duration of a possible extension."

By law, Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, with or without a deal, unless it cancels Brexit or secures a delay.

May is trying to persuade opponents in her Conservative Party and its parliamentary allies to support the withdrawal agreement, which Parliament has already resoundingly defeated twice.

Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Sunday his party is against May's deal — but indicated that it would back an amendment that supports the deal on condition it is put to a new referendum.

Corbyn has written to lawmakers across the political spectrum inviting them for talks to find a cross-party compromise.

He also told Sky News that he may propose another no-confidence vote in the government if May's deal is voted down again.

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