UK GOVT: GIVE MAY MORE TIME

As Brexit looms, still no deal

Boston Herald - - BIZ SMART -

LON­DON — With Brexit just 47 days away, the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment asked law­mak­ers Sun­day to give Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May more time to re­work her di­vorce deal with the Euro­pean Union.

Com­mu­ni­ties Sec­re­tary James Bro­ken­shire said Par­lia­ment would get to pass judg­ment on May’s Brexit plan “no later than Feb. 27.”

The prom­ise is a bid to avert a show­down Thurs­day, when Par­lia­ment is set to de­bate and vote on next moves in the Brexit process. Some law­mak­ers want to try to seize con­trol and steer the coun­try toward a softer exit from the bloc.

Bri­tain is due to leave the EU on March 29, but Par­lia­ment has re­jected May’s di­vorce bill, leav­ing the prime min­is­ter to seek changes from the EU. The U.K.’s bid for last-minute changes has ex­as­per­ated EU lead­ers, who in­sist the legally bind­ing with­drawal agree­ment can’t be changed.

The im­passe risks a chaotic “no deal” de­par­ture for Bri­tain, which could be painful for busi­nesses and or­di­nary peo­ple on both sides of the Chan­nel.

Bri­tish busi­nesses fear a no-deal Brexit will cause grid­lock at ports by rip­ping up the trade rule­book and im­pos­ing tar­iffs, cus­toms checks and other bar­ri­ers be­tween the U.K. and the EU, its big­gest trad­ing part­ner.

Aus­trian For­eign Min­is­ter Karin Kneissl told the BBC that a “dis­or­derly exit” was now the most likely op­tion.

Op­po­nents of the gov­ern­ment ac­cuse May of delib- er­ately wast­ing time so that Par­lia­ment will face a last­minute choice be­tween her deal and no deal.

Carolyn Fair­bairn of busi­ness group the Con­fed­er­a­tion of Bri­tish In­dus­try said fail­ure to se­cure a deal in good time was “neg­li­gence on be­half of our po­lit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions and lead­ers.”

GETTY IM­AGES PHO­TOS

IN LIMBO: Busi­nesses in the U.K. fear chaos at key com­merce hubs be­tween the EU and Eng­land, such as this one in north­west­ern France, if a Brexit deal isn’t fi­nal­ized by the March 29 dead­line.

MAKE OR BREAK: Op­po­nents of Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May claim she is de­lib­er­ately drag­ging her feet on a new Brexit deal for po­lit­i­cal pur­poses.

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