May: MPs try­ing to frus­trate Brexit

China Daily (USA) - - WORLD - By CHINA DAILY

British Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May said on Thurs­day that British law­mak­ers faced a choice ahead of a vote on her Brexit deal: ap­prov­ing her deal or fac­ing an exit with no deal or even the re­ver­sal of Brexit.

May said she was speak­ing to law­mak­ers about giv­ing par­lia­ment a big­ger role in whether the North­ern Ir­ish back­stop ar­range­ment would be trig­gered, though she gave few de­tails.

May said some in par­lia­ment were try­ing to frus­trate Brexit and that she did not think an­other ref­er­en­dum on Brexit was the right course.

“There are three op­tions: one is to leave the Euro­pean Union with a deal, ... the other two are that we leave without a deal or that we have no Brexit at all,” May told BBC ra­dio.

“It’s clear that there are those in the House of Commons who want to frus­trate Brexit, ... and over­turn the vote of the British peo­ple and that’s not right.”

May re­peat­edly sidestepped ques­tions on whether she would de­lay the Dec 11 vote but did hint at pos­si­ble con­ces­sions on the North­ern Ir­ish back­stop.

“There are ques­tions about how de­ci­sions are taken as to whether we go into the back­stop, be­cause that isn’t an au­to­matic,” she said.

“The ques­tion is: Do we go into the back­stop? Do we ex­tend what I call the im­ple­men­ta­tion pe­riod?”

When asked re­peat­edly what her “Plan B” would be if her deal was re­jected, she did not di­rectly an­swer the ques­tions.

Mean­while, the Euro­pean Union’s top court will say on Mon­day whether Bri­tain can uni­lat­er­ally halt Brexit, po­ten­tially of­fer­ing a boost to those op­posed to leav­ing the bloc on the eve of a cru­cial vote in the par­lia­ment.

In a state­ment on Thurs­day, the Court of Jus­tice in Lux­em­bourg said the jus­tices would de­liver a rul­ing at 9 am on Dec 10 in a case brought by Scot­tish politi­cians who ar­gue Bri­tain can sim­ply with­draw its plan to leave in March, without wait­ing for the ap­proval of the other mem­ber states.

Act­ing with al­most un­prece­dented speed in a case that the court took up only in Oc­to­ber, and on which it held a hear­ing only last week, a le­gal ad­viser to the court said on Tues­day that Bri­tain could in­deed make a U-turn en­tirely of its own ac­cord. Such ad­vice is usu­ally but not al­ways fol­lowed by the judges.

The le­gal clar­i­fi­ca­tion of Ar­ti­cle 50 of the EU treaty, un­der which May last year trig­gered a two-year count­down to de­par­ture, mat­ters be­cause op­po­nents of Brexit want to hold a se­cond ref­er­en­dum that would give Bri­tons a choice of stay­ing in the EU. Ac­cord­ing to an ad­vo­cate gen­eral at the ECJ, that choice is en­tirely theirs to make and does not need EU ap­proval.

That makes the prospect of a new ref­er­en­dum cred­i­ble, ac­cord­ing to sup­port­ers of a “peo­ple’s vote”. The British elec­torate voted in 2016 to leave the EU by 52 per­cent to 48.

EU lead­ers have long in­sisted they would wel­come Bri­tain chang­ing its mind, but many EU of­fi­cials and le­gal ex­perts had as­sumed that the ap­proval of ei­ther all or most of the other 27 mem­bers states would be needed to halt Brexit al­to­gether.

It is far from clear whether or how Bri­tain could or­ga­nize a new ref­er­en­dum.

If May wins her vote on Tues­day, the with­drawal is likely to pro­ceed as agreed with Brus­sels last month. If she loses, her own po­si­tion could be in jeop­ardy, there could be a move for a new elec­tion, or pos­si­bly to hold a new ref­er­en­dum. Reuters and AFP con­trib­uted to this story.

MARK DUFFY / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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