MPs are set to create a law forcing Theresa May to ask for a delay to Brexit.
A cross-group of parliamentarians, including Conservative Sir Oliver Letwin and Labour’s Yvette Cooper, will on Wednesday bring forward a bill instructing the Prime Minister to request an extension to the negotiating time beyond 12 April.
It would be down to the EU to agree to an extension, and the bloc has already made clear it would only sanction more time if there was a shift in the UK’s negotiating position.
Letwin and Cooper are bringing the bill forward instead of holding another round of indicative votes, after MPs failed for the second time to reach a consensus on Brexit on Monday night.
Cooper said: “We are now in a really dangerous situation with a serious and growing risk of No Deal in 10 days’ time.
“The Prime Minister has a responsibility to prevent that happening. She needs to put forward a proposal, including saying how long an extension she thinks we need to sort things.
“If the government won’t act urgently, then parliament has a responsibility to try to ensure that happens even though we are right up against the deadline.”
We are now in dangerous situation. Risk of damaging No Deal on 12 April rising fast. Whatever is/isn’t agreed this wk, PM must put forward plan for extension to avert No Deal on April 12. For sake of jobs, families & security, this cross party bill aims to ensure that happens pic.twitter.com/6tQTL45txl
— Yvette Cooper (@YvetteCooperMP) April 2, 2019
May is holding a marathon meeting of her cabinet on Tuesday – expected to run over four hours – in a bid to find a way through the Brexit stalemate.
The UK’s current extended deadline to leave the EU is 12 April, having originally been set to leave on 29 March.
But with May’s deal having been rejected by parliament three times so far, there is no sign of the UK agreeing a deal with the EU by that date.
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned this morning that a no-deal Brexit looks “day by day more likely”, saying only May’s withdrawal agreement can secure the UK an orderly departure.
Yesterday MPs failed to reach consensus of any of four potential paths forward on Brexit, with softer options rejected.
It led Tory MP Nick Boles, the architect of one defeated option, to vow to quit the Conservatives “because my party refuses to compromise”.