Brexit creates more uncertainty, Theresa May’s withdrawal bill delayed


LONDON: The uncertainty over the Brexit issue increased further on Thursday and the government formally declared thatTheresa May’s Brexit withdrawal bill will not be published or debated until early June.

The prime minister is under pressure to resign following a backlash from her own MPs against her pledged “new deal” on Brexit. Andrea Leadsom quit as Commons Leader, saying she could not announce the bill which had “new elements that I fundamentally oppose”. She has been replaced by Treasury minister Mel Stride.

Theresa May had told the Commons that the Withdrawal Agreement Bill – the legislation needed to implement the agreement between the UK and EU – would be published on Friday so MPs would have “the maximum possible time to study its detail”.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump is due to make a three-day state visit to the UK from 3 to 5 June. Asked who the prime minister would be when he arrives, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “Theresa May will be prime minister to welcome him and rightly so”.

It is possible for Mrs May to quit as Conservative leader before Mr Trump’s visit, but continue as prime minister on a caretaker basis.

On Wednesday, members of the Conservatives’ backbench 1922 Committee held a secret ballot on whether to change party rules, to allow the prime minister to face a vote of no confidence immediately.

Mrs May is due to meet the chairman of the committee, Sir Graham Brady, on Friday. The results, in sealed envelopes, will be opened if Mrs May does not agree to stand down by 10 June. Mrs May survived a no-confidence vote of Conservative MPs in December.Under existing rules, she cannot be challenged again until December this year.