Theresa May has promised MPs a vote on delaying the UK’s departure from the EU or ruling out a no-deal Brexit, if they reject her deal next month.
Mrs May is making a statement to MPs on Brexit, amid the threat of a revolt by Remain-supporting ministers.
The prime minister promised MPs a meaningful vote on her Brexit deal by 12 March.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused the prime minister of trying to “string” the Brexit process out.
The prime minister said she will put her withdrawal agreement – including any changes she has agreed with the EU – to a meaningful vote on 12 March.
If that fails, MPs will be offered two separate votes:
- One, on 13 March, on whether MPs support a no-deal Brexit – so the UK would “only leave without a deal on 29 March if there is explicit consent in the House for that outcome”
- If that fails, then MPs will get a vote the following day on requesting an extension to the two-year Article 50 negotiation process to delay EU withdrawal beyond 29 March
“Let me be clear, I do not want to see Article 50 extended,” she told MPs.
“Our absolute focus should be on working to get a deal and leaving on 29 March.
“An extension beyond the end of June would mean the UK taking part in the European Parliament elections. What kind of message would that send to the more than 17 million people who voted to leave the EU nearly three years ago now?
“And the House should be clear that a short extension – not beyond the end of June – would almost certainly have to be a one-off.”
She said an extension “cannot take no deal off the table”, adding: “The only way to do that is to revoke Article 50, which I shall not do, or agree a deal.”
The sequence of votes will be proposed on Wednesday in an amendable motion for MPs to debate and vote on.
Mrs May told MPs: “They are commitments I am making as prime minister and I will stick by them, as I have previous commitments to make statements and table amendable motions by specific dates.”
The move is an attempt to avoid a defeat for the government on Wednesday, which could see MPs taking control of the Brexit process.
‘Honest assessment’ of no-deal readiness
Separately, Mrs May said the government was publishing a paper assessing its readiness for a no-deal Brexit and the “very serious challenges” it would pose.
“I believe that if we have to, we will ultimately make a success of a no-deal,” she said.
“But this paper provides an honest assessment of the very serious challenges it would bring in the short-term and further reinforces why the best way for this House to honour the referendum result is to leave with a deal.”
Jeremy Corbyn said he had “lost count” of the prime minister’s explanations for her “grotesquely reckless” Brexit delays.
“The prime minister continues to say it is her deal or no deal, but this House has decisively rejected her deal and has clearly rejected no deal,” he told MPs.
“It is the prime minister’s obstinacy that is blocking a resolution.”
Mr Corbyn says Labour will get behind another EU referendum if the party can’t get its own Brexit proposals through Parliament on Wednesday.
If Mrs May’s Brexit deal gets through Parliament next month, Labour wants it to be put to a public vote – with remaining in the EU as the other option.