Pro EU protestors and singers of a choir perform opposite the Houses of Parliament in London, Monday, April 8, 2019. Britain’s government and opposition are clinging to hope Monday of finding a compromise Brexit deal.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

What next? A new delay could prolong UK’s Brexit agony

Britain is scheduled to leave the EU in three days

British Prime Minister Theresa May is crisscrossing Europe in search of a Brexit delay. In London, government ministers are meeting their political opponents in search of a European Union divorce deal. Meanwhile, Britain is scheduled to leave the EU in three days.

With almost everything about Brexit engulfed in uncertainty, a look at what could happen next:

DELAY EXIT DAY

For two years, Britain was scheduled to leave the EU on March 29, 2019. But after Parliament three times rejected the divorce deal agreed between the U.K. government and the bloc, May admitted defeat and asked for more time.

Last month, the EU gave Britain until April 12 — this Friday — to pass a deal, come up with a new plan and seek a further extension, or leave without an agreement or a transition period to smooth the way.

Now May wants a bit more time. She has asked the EU to delay Brexit until June 30, in hope that’ll be enough time to secure, approve and implement a deal.

The 27 other leaders of the bloc will consider the request at an emergency Brexit summit in Brussels on Wednesday. Few favour the June 30 date. Some want a longer extension, to avoid repeated crises every few weeks.

European Council President Donald Tusk has proposed a “flextension:” a delay of up to a year, but with flexibility to let Britain leave earlier if it approves an agreement.

But an extension is not guaranteed. French President Emmanuel Macron has hinted at opposition to any further delay, saying the bloc can’t be held “hostage” to Britain’s political crisis.

READ MORE: U.K. government, opposition cling to hope of Brexit compromise

___

NO DEAL

As it stands, Britain is due to leave the EU on Friday — deal or no deal.

Most politicians, economists and business groups think leaving the world’s largest trading bloc without an agreement would be damaging for the EU and disastrous for the U.K. It could lead to tariffs imposed on trade between Britain and the EU and customs checks that could cause gridlock at ports and shortages of essential goods.

A hard core of pro-Brexit lawmakers in May’s Conservative Party dismiss such warnings as fear-mongering. But most are opposed to leaving without a deal. Parliament has voted repeatedly to rule out a “no-deal” Brexit, and even passed a law that forces the government to ask for a delay to Britain’s exit rather than crash out.

But a no-deal Brexit is still the legal default position, and could happen if the EU refuses to grant another extension. If that happens the only way to stop Britain crashing out would be for the government to choose the “nuclear option” and revoke the decision to leave.

___

CROSS-PARTY COMPROMISE

To secure a new Brexit delay, May must convince EU leaders that she has a plan to break the deadlock that grips Britain’s political process almost three years after the country voted to leave the EU.

After attempts to win push through her Brexit deal with support from Conservatives along, May last week began seeking a compromise with her Labour opponents.

Labour favours a softer Brexit than the government has proposed and seeks a close economic relationship with the bloc through a customs union. That’s anathema to many in May’s Conservative Party, who say it would not leave Britain free to strike its own trade deals around the world.

Several days of talks have failed to produce a breakthrough, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn saying “the government doesn’t seem to be moving off its original red lines.” Still, negotiations between senior politicians from the two sides are continuing.

If they reach agreement around a “soft Brexit,” it could quite likely get through Parliament, and would be welcomed by the EU, allowing Britain an orderly departure in the coming months.

But it could also blast open rifts within both Conservatives and Labour. Pro-Brexit government ministers could resign or pressure May to quit. Corbyn would face rebellion from a large number of Labour lawmakers who want a new referendum on Britain’s EU exit.

That instability increases the chance of an early British election, which could rearrange Parliament and break the deadlock — or result in still more stalemate.

___

NO BREXIT

Among pro-EU Britons, there is rising hope that Brexit can be stopped.

With one Brexit day come and gone and another likely to follow, the government has lost control of the timetable.

This week the government started preparing to take part in elections for the European Parliament in late May — acknowledgement that Britain likely won’t have left the bloc by then, and may not leave anytime soon.

Support is growing for the idea that any Brexit deal agreed by Parliament should be put to public vote in a “confirmatory referendum,” with the other option being to stay in the EU. The proposal is backed by Labour and other opposition parties, plus some of May’s Conservatives.

The government has ruled out holding another referendum, saying voters in 2016 made their decision to leave. But with divisions in both Parliament and in May’s Cabinet, handing the decision back to the people in a new plebiscite could be seen as the only way forward.

READ MORE: Trump renews Mueller attacks as Russia report release looms

___

Jill Lawless, The Associated Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Public warned to stay away from algae bloom near Herald Park in Shuswap Lake

Interior Health states that people, pets should not drink the water in the area or touch the algae

South Shuswap residents say Balmoral Road intersection improvements could be better

Reliance on frontage roads along Trans-Canada Highway and narrow underpasses criticized

Sign of spring: Salmon Arm’s steep Shoemaker Hill opens to traffic

Opening delayed by snow and freezing temperatures

20th anniversary of Shuswap’s Salty Dog Enduro postponed to 2021

Organizers follow direction from provincial/national bodies to cancel May event

West Kelowna man charged in relation to cannabis grow robbery in Sicamous

Two suspects remain at large; police believe they left the robbery scene in a white hatchback

COVID-19 death toll reaches 50 in B.C., while daily case count steadies

B.C. records 34 new cases in the province, bringing total active confirmed cases to 462

B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Will include virtual clinics and resources for British Columbians, including front-line workers

B.C.’s COVID-19 rent supplement starts taking applications

$300 to $500 to landlords for April, May and June if eligible

COVID-19: No more international flights at Kelowna International Airport

All international flights at YLW have been suspended, airport to operate just nine flights a day

B.C.’s top doctor details prescription for safe long weekend

Yes, it includes hosting an online cooking show

BC SPCA seeks help for abandoned German shepherd puppies

Donations have ‘petered out’ as doors are closed due to COVID-19

Reality TV show about bodybuilders still filming in Okanagan amid COVID-19

Five bodybuilders from across the country flew to Kelowna to move into a house for a reality TV show

Serious assault leaves Osoyoos woman in critical condition: RCMP

A 60-year-old Osoyoos woman suffers life threatening injuries following assault inside home

COVID-19: Vernon pet grooming store closed temporarily after symptoms shown

Wet Spot Grooming and Pet Care to announce return Easter Monday

Most Read