Key Parliament vote Tuesday ahead of March 29 deadline
LONDON — Two prominent Brexit backers are warning Prime Minister Theresa May not to seek a delay to Britain’s scheduled March 29 departure from the European Union if her withdrawal deal is rejected Tuesday.
Conservative Party lawmaker Steve Baker and Democratic Unionist deputy leader Nigel Dodds wrote in the Sunday Telegraph that prolonging the Brexit process rather than making a clean break would lead to “political calamity.”
The two said slowing Britain’s departure would mean a “costly delay” for British businesses and irreparable damage to public trust in politics.
Brexiteers who are ready to embrace a “no-deal” Brexit if no agreement is approved by Britain’s Parliament worry that a possible vote this week to seek an extension of the talks will eventually lead to a softening or cancellation of Brexit plans.
Their warnings are based on the widespread belief that May’s 585-page withdrawal agreement, reached after more than two years of rigorous talks with the EU, will be defeated in Parliament unless last-minute concessions are made by European leaders.
Thus far, the terms are unchanged from the withdrawal plan that received a shellacking in Parliament in January, losing by some 230 votes, a record rejection of a sitting government.
The prospect of another defeat has all sides in the Brexit conflict jockeying for position.
Scottish National Party leader Ian Blackford said Sunday that his party will put forward an amendment giving it the authority to hold another independence referendum if Britain does leave the EU.
The Scottish party is firmly opposed to Brexit, and its leaders point out that Scotland’s population voted to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum.
Blackford says the party seeks “a recognition that if the U.K. does leave the European Union that the people of Scotland should be able to determine their own destiny and in particular should have that power to have an independence referendum if we so choose.”
Scotland voted to remain part of the U.K. in a 2014 vote, but its leaders have complained bitterly that it is being dragged out of the EU against its will.