LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Theresa May has offered lawmakers the chance to vote in two weeks for a potentially disorderly no-deal Brexit or to delay Britain’s exit from the European Union if her attempt to ratify a divorce agreement fails.
Here is some reaction to her proposal
OPPOSITION LABOUR LEADER JEREMY CORBYN
“They say … history repeats itself, first time as tragedy, second time as farce. By the umpteenth time, it can only be described as grotesquely reckless.”
“This is not dithering, it’s a deliberate strategy to run down the clock.”
“The Prime Minister is promising to achieve something she knows is not achievable, and is stringing people along.”
PORTUGAL’S PRIME MINISTER ANTONIO COSTA
“If the sovereign decision of the UK is to leave the European Union, we will regret it, respect it and negotiate it that way. If the sovereign decision of the UK is to continue in the European Union for little longer we will be satisfied. And if the UK’s decision is to remain permanently in the European Union we will be very satisfied.”
CONSERVATIVE EUROSCEPTIC LAWMAKER JACOB REES-MOGG
“If it’s being delayed, which is my suspicion, as a plot to stop Brexit altogether then I think that would be the most grievous error that politicians could commit.”
“It would be overthrowing the referendum result, two general elections – one to call for the referendum and one to endorse the referendum – and would undermine our democracy.”
CONSERVATIVE LAWMAKER OLIVER LETWIN
“Very good news. PM statement does what is needed to prevent no deal exit on 29 March and enables MPs to forge cross-party consensus on new way forward if PM’s deal does not succeed on 12 March. No need now for Cooper-Letwin Bill.”
CONSERVATIVE EUROSCEPTIC LAWMAKER ANDREW BRIDGEN
“The prime minister has said over a 100 times that we are leaving the European Union on March 29 with or without a deal,” he told Reuters.
“The question she has not answered which way she and the government will vote if the revised agreement again fails to pass and there’s a subsequent vote … on whether to accept leaving with no deal.”
“If it’s line with her previous policy … clearly she and the government should be voting to leave without a deal. We all remember that the PM also said that no deal is better than a bad deal”
“I reiterate that what we do know is that if no deal is taken off the table then we will have no leverage over the EU for them to continue with negotiations.”
DUP LAWMAKER JEFFREY DONALDSON
“We’re focused on March 29 and believe there is still time to secure changes that are needed to allow parliament to approve the Withdrawal Agreement. That’s the mandate the prime minister’s been given and we support her in seeking to have the necessary changes that will reassure parliament on the backstop.”
SCOTTISH FIRST MINISTER NICOLA STURGEON
“PM still not acting in best interests of UK or any part of it. This is all just cynical manoeuvring to try to bully MPs into accepting her bad deal – a deal which would remove us from EU/SM/CU (European Union, single market, customs union) with no clarity about what comes after. No one should fall for this.”
BELGIAN FOREIGN MINISTER DIDIER REYNDERS
“We are not against (a delay). Of course it will be easier to do that with a roadmap, knowing what we are doing in fact. Because if it is just to prolong the result … it’s more difficult. Like some weeks ago, we are waiting for some decisions in London. It will be that, the first step.”
ASSOCIATION OF GERMAN BANKS
Andreas Krautscheid, Chief Executive and Member of the Board of Directors of the Bundesverband deutscher Banken, said:
“It is hard to imagine how a postponement of eight weeks could solve what hasn’t been solved in the House of Commons during the last two and a half years. Especially since the division among the MPs is so profound.”
“However, companies would gain time for their preparations of a possible no-deal scenario. Either way, the banking sector has been preparing for a worst-case no-deal scenario since the referendum.”
BMW’s board member in charge of purchasing, Andreas Wendt, told German trade weekly Automobilwoche in remarks released before May confirmed her plan:
“A slice-by-slice delay of the start date would not be a good scenario for us.”
INSTITUTE OF DIRECTORS
“Parliament must feel and accept the weight of responsibility that is on their shoulders… Seeing the impasse continue may not be comfortable for businesses, but a disorderly exit could bring unbearable disruption for firms.
“While an extension is not an end in itself, it may become a necessity to achieve an orderly exit.”
CITY OF LONDON CORPORATION
“Any extension to Article 50 must not be a bridge to nowhere. Clarity is required on what a ‘short limited extension’ means in practice,” the corporation said, adding that the plans were still welcome news.
“Politicians must ensure that the UK does not crash out of the European Union next month without a deal.”
“A deal needs to be agreed by the government, parliament and the EU in order to enable City firms to plan for the future with confidence. Only then can we move on to the crucial next phase of negotiations on the future relationship between the UK and the EU.”
Reporting by Alistair Smout, Kylie MacLellan, Elizabeth Piper, William James and Andrew MacAskill in London, Catarina Demony in Lisbon, Tom Miles in Geneva, Padraic Halpin in Dublin, Tom Sims in Frankfurt and Thomas Seythal in Berlin; compiled by Alistair Smout; editing by Kate Holton/Guy Faulconbridge
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