British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday faced tough questioning from lawmakers about the latest Brexit developments, including a call to resign, after she returned from Brussels with a new Brexit extension.
May, who returned in the early hours of Thursday after lengthy and difficult talks with EU leaders in Brussels, addressed a crowded chamber in the Houses of Parliament to report on the outcome of her talks with the EU Council.
The European Council agreed to a six-month extension of the Brexit process early on Thursday morning, setting a new deadline for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union on Oct. 31, 2019.
May had wanted an extension until June 30 in the hope Britain could avoid taking part in European Parliament elections.
Instead, a compromise was reached giving Britain until the end of October, though some EU member states wanted Britain to stay in the bloc until 2020.
May told MPs she deeply regretted having to accept the six-month extension from the EU, which she never wanted to seek.
She said Britain has now been provided with the time necessary to finally break the Brexit impasse, telling MPs: “The choices we face are stark and the timetable is clear.”
May said she was still pursuing an orderly departure from the EU, insisting there was still time for MPs to agree a deal to avoid Britain taking part in the EU elections.
She said the deal would allow Britain to leave earlier than October if parliament backed a deal.
May told MPs the whole Brexit debate was causing uncertainty across the country and needed to be resolved.
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, said the latest extension represented not only a “diplomatic failure” but also another milestone in the government’s handling of the entire Brexit process.
“The clock has run down and Britain has been left in limbo,” he said.
Later Thursday, May’s government was scheduled to have more bilateral talks with the Labour party in renewed attempts to break the deadlock.
Veteran Conservative politician Bill Cash asked May if she will resign, saying the new delay to Brexit is an abject surrender.
Rebuffing the resign call, May said she had voted three times in favor of the Brexit deal, but the House of Commons had voted against it.
The leader of the minority Liberal Democrats, Vince Cable asked May to put forward a timetable for when a second EU referendum, the so-called People’s Vote, could take place, if MPs voted for it.
May, who has always insisted the result of the 2016 referendum decided the issue, said the government’s position on another vote hasn’t changed.