LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May offered both a promise on workers’ rights and a reassuring letter from EU leaders on Monday as she implored British lawmakers to support her floundering Brexit deal.
But the British leader had few concrete measures up her sleeve a day before a vote in Parliament, which looks likely to see her Brexit deal rejected.
A defeat on Tuesday would throw Brexit plans into disarray just weeks before the UK is due to leave the bloc on March 29.
May warned that the only alternatives to her agreement were an economically damaging, chaotic “no-deal” exit from the EU or a halt to Britain’s departure that would defy British voters’ decision in 2016 to leave the bloc.
In a speech on Monday at a ceramics factory in the pro-Brexit central England city of Stoke-on-Trent, May said “people’s faith in the democratic process and their politicians would suffer catastrophic harm” if her deal is rejected and Brexit was abandoned.
The other option, leaving the EU without a deal, “would cause turbulence for our economy, create barriers to security cooperation and disrupt people’s daily lives,” she said.
“The only deal on the table is the one (members of Parliament) will vote on tomorrow night,” May said.
In a letter to May published Monday, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker offered an assurance that the backstop “would only be in place for as long as strictly necessary.”
They promised that the EU would work quickly to strike a permanent new trade deal with Britain that would render the backstop unnecessary.
But the letter also reiterated the bloc’s refusal to renegotiate the divorce deal. The two men said “we are not in a position to agree to anything that changes or is inconsistent with the Withdrawal Agreement.”