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May Now Open to No-Deal Brexit If Parliament Rejects Her Deal

British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves Downing Street, January 15, 2019. (Peter Nicholls/Reuters)

British prime minister Theresa May, after repeatedly warning the public of the dangers associated with a so-called no-deal Brexit — in which the country leaves the European Union absent a formal agreement with the EU — is now reportedly open to that option if Parliament continues to reject the deal she has negotiated with Brussels.

After announcing Wednesday that she had formally requested that the EU extend the Brexit deadline from March 29 to June 30, May came to accept the possibility that the U.K. will crash out of the body if Parliament refuses to approve the terms of her deal, The Financial Times reported.

“The mood has hardened on no deal,” one person close to the prime minister told the Times. “She didn’t seem concerned about leaving with no deal,” said another source described as a “Eurosceptic conservative MP.”

The EU convened in Brussels on Thursday to discuss May’s deadline-extension request, which she was forced to resort to after parliament twice rejected the deal she negotiated with EU leaders. May was barred by parliamentary procedure from putting the deal up for a third vote during the same legislative session.

Speaking from Downing Street on Wednesday evening, May said it was a “matter of great personal regret” that she was forced to ask European Council president Donald Tusk to delay Britain’s departure, but placed blame for the delay squarely on Parliament.

“Of this, I am absolutely sure: You the public have had enough. You are tired of the infighting, you’re tired of the political games and the arcane procedural rows, tired of MPs talking about nothing else but Brexit when you have real concerns about our children’s schools, our National Health Service, knife crime,” she said. “You want this stage of the Brexit process to be over and done with. I agree. I am on your side. It is now time for MPs to decide.”

Tusk said Wednesday that the deadline extension “should be possible” but reiterated the EU’s long-held position that any delay cannot be used as a pretext to renegotiate the deal May negotiated months ago.

Update 3:51p.m.: EU officials have agreed to extend the Brexit deadline until May 22, CNN reported.

 

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