Wednesday 20 March 2019 10:42 am

Labour MP launches last-minute challenge to May’s decision to pursue ‘short’ Brexit delay

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A Labour MP has tabled a last-ditch challenge to Theresa May's decision to seek only a short delay to Brexit.

Alison McGovern formally requested an emergency parliamentary debate today on the Prime Minister's plans to extend Brexit.

Read more: Prime Minister rules out long Brexit delay

It is not clear if her emergency debate motion would lead to a vote on Brexit or not.

Speaker John Bercow – who sought to rule out a third vote on May's deal earlier this week – must decide whether McGovern's motion can proceed or not, after which the MP would have three minutes to make her case.

The Labour MP's office said her motion was a direct response to May's decision to ask the EU for a short extension to Brexit, likely until the end of June.

May must inform EU leaders of any plans to delay Brexit by tomorrow at the latest, Reuters reported, citing a senior EU official.

May will travel to Brussels for a summit tomorrow to discuss a potential extension of the UK’s timeline to leave the EU, but no request has yet been received, according to the report.

“To be frank, we thought today in the morning we’d have more certainty… but I’m afraid it’s still not the case,” the official said. “We have to demonstrate patience.”

“But, at the latest, I hope that during the meeting tomorrow – if there are intentions from the UK side for an extension – I hope they will be clarified tomorrow.”

The spokesperson for No 10 yesterday confirmed the Prime Minister will write to European Council president Donald Tusk to ask for a delay to Brexit.

May has insisted she will only request a short extension to Article 50, the mechanism through which the UK leaves the EU.

The UK is trying to avoid crashing out of the bloc on 29 March without a deal.

The Prime Minister will join initial talks on Thursday afternoon before leaving to allow the other leaders to discuss their response.

Read more: Sterling dips lower as May rules out long Brexit delay


“We hope that before the 27 heads of states and governments will start their discussion, Prime Minister May will address the leaders, will sketch out her plans and the assessment of the situation in the UK,” the official said.

The pound slipped as much as 0.3 per cent this morning after it emerged May will seek a short extension to Article 50.