- Theresa May offers MPs a binding vote on delaying Brexit or leaving without a deal.
- The prime minister told the House of Commons that MPs can decide whether to postpone Britain’s exit from the EU in the event that they reject her deal for a second time.
- The announcement means that a Brexit delay is now very likely with just weeks to go until Britain is due to leave the EU.
- May made the concession after senior members of her Cabinet threatened to quit in order to prevent a no-deal Brexit.
LONDON — Theresa May has offered MPs a vote to delay Brexit and avoid leaving the EU without a deal, in a dramatic change of policy designed to prevent a new wave of Cabinet resignations.
May told MPs she would allow them the opportunity to back a "short, limited delay" to Brexit, if they again reject her deal.
The House of Commons is due to vote again on May’s Brexit deal on March 12, after it was heavily defeated by MPs earlier this year.
May told the Commons on Tuesday that in the event MPs reject her deal for a second time, they will be given a series of binding votes on whether to leave the EU without a deal, or delay Brexit.
"The UK will only leave without a deal on 29th March if there is explicit assent in the House for that outcome," May told MPs.
She said that if her deal is rejected for a second time then MPs would be offered a vote on March 13 on leaving without a deal and then a subsequent vote on March 14 on whether to delay Brexit.
"The government will on 14 march bring forward a motion on whether parliament wants to seek a short, limited extension to article 50," she told the House of Commons.
"And if the House votes for an extension, seek to agree that extension approved by the house with the EU, and bring forward the necessary legislation to change the exit date."
The prime minister has previously insisted that Britain will leave the EU on March 29, even if Parliament fails to ratify the deal she has negotiated with the EU.
However, May gave into demands for a vote to head-off potential mass resignations from her Cabinet, with up to 15 ministers threatening to stand down this week.
She insisted that she would do everything she can to prevent a delay.
"Let me be clear, I do not want to see Article 50 extended," she said.
"Our absolute focus should be on working to get a deal and leaving on 29 March."
She added that "an extension cannot take no deal off the table. The only way to do that is to revoke Article 50, which I shall not do, or agree a deal."
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused the prime minister of putting jobs at risk by refusing to make it clear that she would prevent a no-deal Brexit.
"Every delay every bit of badly made fudge just intensifies the uncertainty for industry, business, investment being held back, jobs being lost and more jobs being putting at risk," he said.
"The real life consequences of the Prime Minister’s cynical tactics are being felt across the country. Factories relocating abroad, jobs being lost, investment being cancelled. Thousands of workers at sites across Britain’s towns and cities are hearing rumours and fearing the worst."
May’s concession came after the UK government delayed the so-called meaningful vote on her Brexit deal this week.
The delay led to a series of ministers threatening to quit the cabinet in order to back an upcoming backbench Brexit amendment which aims to delay Brexit.
Any delay would have to be agreed unanimously by the other 27 EU countries.
However, European Council President Donald Tusk this week welcomed the prospect of a delay, describing it as a "rational solution" to preventing a "chaotic Brexit."
He added that other EU members would "show maximum understanding and goodwill" to the proposal.
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