Members of Parliament will vote for a fourth time on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal in early June, the U.K. government has announced.
In a new twist to Britain’s enduring Brexit saga, May will let MPs vote on her new EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill even if Labour does not support it—which seems likely.
Labour MPs are reluctant to back May’s agreement, as they fear it will simply be torn up by her replacement when she steps down, which she has vaguely said will happen once Brexit is finalized.
Without cross-party support, May cannot win a majority in Parliament to back her bill, adding to speculation that even after a fourth defeat, a vote of no confidence, and meetings with senior backbench colleagues about when she is likely to step down, she will not survive as prime minister.
Although May’s divided cabinet has agreed Brexit talks should continue with the opposition Labour Party, the prime minister has been pushed by her own party to pass the necessary legislation to take Britain out of the European Union before the summer parliamentary recess.
This is scheduled for the end of July until Sept. 10, when on their return MPs are due to sit for just three days before Parliament goes into recess again until early October to allow for party conference season.
MPs will be absent from Westminster for the rest of those 10 weeks.
According to the current timetable, the United Kingdom is set to leave the European Union by Oct. 31—just three weeks after MPs begin sitting at Westminster again full-time.
The content of May’s latest bill has not yet been made public, but given the lack of cross-party consensus, many MPs believe the crux of the deal has not been changed and that the Northern-Irish “backstop,” a temporary measure to facilitate easy trading between the United Kingdom and European Union on the only land border between the two, will remain a key part of the agreement.
The vote will also come at an awkward time for May’s governing Conservative Party. The European Parliamentary election results will be called the week before, and the party is set to be punished for failing to deliver Brexit in any form. In the local elections that took place earlier this month, over 1,300 Conservative councilors lost their seats, believed to be due largely to May’s mishandling of the negotiations.