With a crucial parliamentary vote on Brexit looming, British Prime Minister Theresa May warned lawmakers Sunday that they could take Britain into “uncharted waters” and trigger a general election if they reject the divorce deal she struck with the European Union.
PM May is fighting to save her unpopular Brexit plan and her job ahead of a showdown in Parliament on Tuesday, when lawmakers are widely expected to vote down the deal she negotiated with Brussels. Her Downing Street office insisted that the vote will go ahead despite speculation that the government may be forced to delay it.
A defeat in the vote could see Britain crashing out of the EU on March 29, the date for Britain’s exit, with no deal in place — an outcome that could spell economic chaos.
In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, May said nixing her deal would “mean grave uncertainty for the nation with a very real risk of no Brexit or leaving the European Union with no deal.”
“When I say if this deal does not pass we would truly be in uncharted waters, I hope people understand this is what I genuinely believe and fear could happen,” she said.
May’s government does not have a majority in the House of Commons, and opposition parties — as well as many of May’s own Conservatives — have already said they will not back the divorce deal that May and EU leaders agreed on last month.
Pro-Brexit lawmakers say the deal keeps Britain bound too closely to the EU, while pro-EU politicians say it erects barriers between the U.K. and its biggest trading partner and leaves many details of the future relationship undecided.
The main sticking point is a “backstop” provision in the Brexit agreement that aims to guarantee an open border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.’s Northern Ireland post-Brexit.
The temporary measure would keep Britain under EU customs rules, and is supposed to last until superseded by permanent new trade arrangements. But critics say it could leave Britain tied to the EU indefinitely, unable to strike new trade deals around the world.