SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May is under pressure to delay the country’s departure from the European Union, after she postponed a vote in Parliament on her Brexit deal with the bloc.
May was holding meetings Monday with EU leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at an EU-Arab League summit in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, as she sought elusive changes to the U.K.-EU divorce agreement.
Britain’s Parliament has rejected the deal once, and May has just over a month to get it approved by lawmakers before the U.K.’s scheduled departure day of March 29.
May says a new vote won’t be held this week and could come as late as March 12.
U.K. lawmakers’ objections to the Brexit deal center on a provision for the border between the U.K.’s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland. The mechanism, known as the backstop, is a safeguard that would keep the U.K. in a customs union with the EU to remove the need for checks along the Irish border until a permanent new trading relationship is in place.
May wants to change the deal to reassure British lawmakers that the backstop would only apply temporarily.
But EU leaders insist that the legally Brexit binding withdrawal agreement, which took a year and a half to negotiate, can’t be reopened.
A group of British lawmakers will try this week to force the government to delay Brexit rather than see the country crash out of the bloc without a deal. They want Parliament to vote Wednesday to extend the negotiating process.
Labour lawmaker Yvette Cooper, one of those behind the move, said it was irresponsible of the government that just a few weeks before Brexit “we still don’t know what kind of Brexit we are going to have and we’re not even going to have a vote on it until two weeks before that final deadline.”
“I don’t see how businesses can plan, I don’t see how public services can plan and I think it’s just deeply damaging,” Cooper told the BBC.
Jill Lawless reported from London.