Last-ditch bid to avert no-deal Brexit

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London: A cross-party group of MPs in Britain’s House of Commons announced on Tuesday they plan a new bid to block a no-deal Brexit by tabling a bill to extend Article 50 beyond April 12.

MPs said they plan to attempt to force Prime Minister Theresa May to ask Brussels for a further Brexit delay to rule out Britain leaving the European Union (EU) without a deal on April 12, the British media reported.

Conservative MP Oliver Letwin and Labour MP Yvette Cooper unveiled draft legislation on Tuesday that will force May to ask Brussels for an extension of Article 50, the process that sets Britain’s departure date from the bloc.

They aim to get the measure debated in the House of Commons on Wednesday, with a fast-track legislative process through both Houses of Parliament if it wins MPs’ backing.

MPs would have to vote on Wednesday to pave the way for a full debate in the House of Commons.

“We are now in a really dangerous situation with a serious and growing risk of ‘no deal’ in 10 days,” Cooper was cited as saying by the Guardian, adding “the Prime Minister has a responsibility to prevent that from happening. She needs to put forward a proposal, including saying how long an extension she thinks we need to sort things out.”

Letwin said: “This is a last-ditch attempt to prevent our country being exposed to the risks inherent in a no-deal exit. It’s difficult, but definitely worth trying.”

Letwin had put forward the proposal that enabled MPs to hold a series of indicative votes as a way of ending the deadlock over May’s under-fire Brexit deal, which has been rejected three times.

Although a range of options have been voted on by MPs, none have won majority backing.

Meanwhile, EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said earlier in the day the threat of a no-deal Brexit was becoming likelier by the day, but it was up to the UK government to present a new plan for the country’s withdrawal from the EU.

Addressing a foreign affairs commission at the European Parliament, Barnier doubled down on his belief that the withdrawal agreement struck with the UK government was the only treaty that would allow for a so-called orderly Brexit.

“No-deal was never our desired or intended scenario, but the EU27 is now prepared. It becomes day after day more likely. The UK should now indicate a way forward,” he said.

British MPs on Monday voted on four alternatives to May’s withdrawal deal, but none gained a majority. In the Commons votes, MPs rejected a customs union with the EU by three votes. A motion for another referendum got the most votes in favour, but still lost.