March 07, 2019
Britain is due to leave the EU in 22 days, but if lawmakers reject the deal this will put in doubt how, when or possibly even if Britain’s biggest foreign and trade policy shift in more than 40 years will take place. PHOTO: REUTERS
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will probably have to delay its departure from the European Union if lawmakers reject the government’s proposed divorce deal in a vote next week, according to the finance minister Philip Hammond.
Britain is due to leave the EU in 22 days, but if lawmakers reject the deal this will put in doubt how, when or possibly even if Britain’s biggest foreign and trade policy shift in more than 40 years will take place.
“If we don’t pass the meaningful vote on Tuesday we’ll go into a parliamentary process that very likely will lead to an extension of time and an uncertain outcome, more uncertainty for the British economy, more uncertainty for people across the country,” Hammond told broadcasters.
“The government is very clear where the will of parliament is on this. Parliament will vote not to leave the European Union without a deal,” Hammond told BBC radio. “I have a high degree of confidence about that.”
Hammond warned eurosceptic colleagues if they fail to back the government’s deal they face the risk of a closer economic relationship with the EU.
“We will then be in unknown territory where a consensus will have to be forged across the House of Commons and that will inevitably mean compromises being made,” he said. “The way for my colleagues to avoid that is to vote for the deal.”
Lawmakers on Jan 15 voted 432-202 against her deal, the worst government defeat in modern British parliamentary history, largely due to the Irish backstop, which is intended to avoid the return of hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.
Talks with Britain on amending its divorce deal with the European Union have made no headway and no swift solution is in sight, EU officials said on Wednesday.
Britain wants legally binding changes to the backstop to ensure it will not be indefinite, to allay concerns among lawmakers that Britain could be locked in a continued customs union with the EU.
When asked directly if Hammond would leave the government if May decided to leave without a deal, he said: “I have always said that I believe it would be a very bad outcome for the UK to leave the European Union without a deal.”