LONDON: As Prime Minister Theresa May prepared her next move in Britain’s deadlocked Brexit battle, a senior opposition politician said Sunday that it is unlikely the United Kingdom (UK) will leave the European Union as scheduled on March 29.
A government minister, however, warned that failure to deliver on Brexit would betray voters and unleash a “political tsunami.”
May is due to present Parliament with a revised Brexit plan on Monday, after the divorce deal she had struck the EU was rejected by lawmakers last week.
With just over two months until Britain is due to leave the bloc, some members of Parliament are pushing for the UK to delay its departure until the country’s divided politicians can agree on a way forward.
Labour Party Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said “it’s inevitable” Britain will have to ask the EU to extend the two-year countdown to exit that ends on March 29. “The 29th of March is 68 days away,” Starmer told the BBC. “We are absolutely not prepared for it. It would be catastrophic.”
Britain’s political impasse over Brexit is fueling concerns that the country may crash out of the EU on March 29 with no agreement in place to cushion the shock. That could see tariffs imposed on goods moving between Britain and the EU, sparking logjams at ports and shortages of essential supplies. Many economists expect Britain to plunge into recession if there is a “no-deal” Brexit.
May’s government is split between ministers who think a disorderly departure must be avoided at all costs, and Brexit-backers who believe it would be preferable to delaying or reversing Brexit.
Former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, who quit the government in opposition to May’s agreement with the EU, said a no-deal Brexit would have “short-term risks,” but they would be “manageable.”
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox wrote in the Sunday Telegraph that “failure to deliver Brexit would produce a yawning gap between Parliament and the people, a schism in our political system with unknowable consequences.” He said public anger could trigger “a political tsunami.”