British PM asks for new Brexit delay to approve deal

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Theresa May speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions

Britain voted by 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the European Union in a 2016 referendum but the deal Mrs May's government negotiated has been repeatedly rejected by Parliament.

Her divorce deal with the European Union has been defeated three times by the lower house of the British parliament, which failed on Monday to find a majority of its own for any alternatives.

Mrs May's gambit also seeks to put her back in charge of a process of parliamentary voting on Brexit options, which has twice failed to find a majority for any alternative plan.

The April 12 deadline, imposed by the European Union, gives May less than two weeks to bridge the hostile divide that separates those in her government who want to sever links with the European Union and those who want to keep the ties that have bound Britain to the bloc for nearly 50 years.

"I am offering to sit down with the leader of the opposition and to try to agree a plan that we would both stick to ensure that we leave the European Union and that we do so with a deal", she said.

After seven hours of talks with her Cabinet ministers, the premier said the United Kingdom will need an extra delay beyond next week's potential cliff-edge deadline of April 12 to resolve the crisis. It was unclear what, if anything, had been agreed.

"We are now in a really risky situation with a serious and growing risk of no deal", Labour Party legislator Yvette Cooper said.

But this could be sneaked back in by attaching it to a new amendment, calling for parliament to have a greater say in Brexit negotiations, which is up for Wednesday's vote.

"Let's not forget first that we have already an agreement, we have already a deal, and it was concluded by Theresa May and the British government and the European Council and European Parliament on November 25 previous year, four months ago", he said.

The defeat of May's deal after pledging to quit if it was passed has left the weakest British leader in a generation facing a spiraling crisis. "Passions are running high on all sides of the argument, but we can and must find the compromises that will deliver what the British people voted for". "The British parliament has said itself that it doesn't want a disorderly Brexit", German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

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Senior Labour leader Yvette Cooper, who is leading the new bid, said: "We are now in a really risky situation with a serious and growing risk of no deal in 10 days' time". But pro-Remain MPs expressed optimism that they could secure backing for a second referendum to ratify or reject any deal.

In Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron said that if almost three years after the referendum the United Kingdom was incapable of coming up with a solution, "it would have effectively chosen a no-deal exit on its own".

But its proposals to maintain an open border with Ireland by keeping Britain temporarily in a customs union with the EU are strongly opposed by many MPs.

"It's up to London to say it, and to say it now", he said.

Given that the British electorate, the two major parties and the cabinet are all polarized over Brexit, May risks ripping her Conservative party apart whichever way she tilts.

Investors and diplomats are in despair at the chaos, and such is the volatility of Brexit news from London that some traders have stepped away from sterling, which has seesawed on Brexit news since the 2016 referendum.

Sterling fell toward $1.30.

"There is no transition if there is no deal", Barnier warned, and the sudden exit would be all the more frenzied because of it.

A group of lawmakers said on Tuesday they would try to pass legislation which would force May to seek a delay to Brexit and thus prevent a no-deal crash-out on April 12.

This proposes that the United Kingdom remain within the EU's single market, have a customs union with the bloc and become a member of the European Free Trade Association alongside the small economies of Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Switzerland. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in commodities, securities or other financial instruments. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy.

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