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May Wins Parliament’s Backing for Her Plan to Delay Brexit

By Bloomberg 14 March 2019

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May enjoyed a rare good day in Parliament, fighting off her opponents and winning the endorsement of British politicians to seek to delay Brexit day.

The result on Thursday means her Brexit plan — which has twice been rejected by huge majorities in the House of Commons — is still in play.

The House of Commons voted 412 to 202 to support May’s motion, which as well as calling for a delay also reveals May’s strategy for getting her unpopular deal approved. She is offering members of Parliament a choice between backing her deal and delivering Brexit with a short delay, or risk being trapped in a long extension with terms set by the bloc.

In another tactical move on Thursday, May also promised lawmakers that if her deal isn’t approved next week, she will give Parliament the chance to take over on March 25. That’s another threat to the pro-Brexit hardliners whose support she needs to get her deal over the line.

Thursday’s votes represent a welcome piece of good news for the British leader, after a bruising three days in which her political authority appeared to drain away.

Her escape was narrow. An earlier rebellion from her own side meant May only defeated an attempt to take control over what happens next out of her hands by the slimmest of margins. The proposal, from Labour politician Hilary Benn, was defeated by 314 votes to 312.

The EU has suggested it’s open to putting back the U.K.’s departure until late May, although there’s no unified position among European leaders and officials say they will need Britain to give a clear reason for delaying. DM

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