LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May unveils her Brexit “Plan B” to parliament on Monday after MPs shredded her EU divorce deal, deepening the political gridlock 10 weeks from departure day, reports AFP.
Britain will crash out of the European Union on March 29 unless MPs can force a delay or come up with an alternative plan that Brussels is also happy with, before the deadline.London and Brussels have spent the best part of two years working on the divorce deal but MPs in parliament’s lower House of Commons comprehensively rejected it on Tuesday. EU leaders have signalled they could alter the agreement if May dropped some of her negotiating “red lines” but British media on Monday reported that she would instead attempt to negotiate some changes to the existing agreement.
The reports were met with scepticism in Europe.
“I don’t think it can be saved by marginal adjustments in the current plan. I don’t think she can convince MPs by presenting the same thing to them with slight tweaks,” Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said in Brussels.
“It therefore has to present something substantially different.”
Asked if he would change the Brexit deal, Slovakia’s Miroslav Lajcak said: “Why? So you want the EU to be a bigger loser than the UK? Is this what you really want?
“This is a fair deal that 27 members strongly support so I would really not touch,” he said.After surviving a Commons confidence vote on Wednesday, May last week reached out to opposition parties to seek a compromise solution but the talks appear to have fallen through.
Meanwhile, the British government launched a phone app Monday to allow EU nationals to apply to stay after Brexit, hoping to ease concerns among those who have made their lives in Britain.
Around 3.5 million Europeans currently living in Britain will need to apply for “settled status” to continue to work and claim benefits after Brexit. The app launch is a test stage before the scheme becomes fully operational on March 30, the day after Britain is due to leave the European Union. It will stay open until late 2020 or 2021.
Prime Minister Theresa May has said repeatedly she wants Europeans living here to stay.
Officials have vowed to make the process as easy as possible, but there are concerns at how they will cope with what some estimates suggest could be 6,000 applications a day.