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Brexit: ‘Tired’ public needs a decision, says Theresa May

Media captionTheresa May: “I am not prepared to delay Brexit any further than 30 June”

Theresa May has told the public she is “on their side”, laying the blame for the delay to Brexit squarely with MPs.

Speaking from Downing Street, the prime minister said people were “tired of infighting and political games” and it was “high time” politicians made a decision on the next steps.

Earlier, Mrs May wrote to EU Council President Donald Tusk requesting to delay Brexit until 30 June.

She said the postponement was a “matter of great personal regret”.

The PM reiterated she would not be willing to extend Brexit any further than that date – despite appeals from some MPs for a longer extension to give time for a change in direction.

The UK is set to leave the EU next Friday, on 29 March, unless the law is changed.

All other 27 EU members would have to agree any extension beyond that date.

Mr Tusk said he believed the EU would agree to a short extension, but only if the withdrawal deal negotiated by Theresa May is signed off by MPs next week.

It has already been overwhelmingly rejected twice.

‘Time to decide’

In her statement, Mrs May said: “Of this I am absolutely sure. You the public have had enough.

“You are tired of the infighting, tired of the political games and the arcane procedural rows, tired of MPs talking about nothing else but Brexit when you have real concerns about our children’s schools, our National Health Service, knife crime.

“You want this stage of the Brexit process to be over and done with. I agree. I am on your side.”

The PM said it was “now time for MPs to decide” whether they wanted to leave with her deal, no deal or whether they chose not to leave at all – the latter she warned could cause “irreparable damage to public trust” in politicians.

“So far Parliament has done everything possible to avoid making a choice,” said Mrs May.

“Motion after motion and amendment after amendment has been tabled without Parliament ever deciding what it wants. All MPs have been willing to say is what they do not want.”

She made a final appeal to MPs to back her deal and told the public: “You just want us to get on with it and that is what I am determined to do.”

British politics at breaking point

By Rob Watson, BBC political correspondent

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AFP/Getty Images

Theresa May has now framed the crisis over Brexit as a battle between the people and Parliament, blaming MPs for the fact Britain’s departure looks like being delayed.

She said people were tired of the delay and that she was, as she put it, on their side.

Her tone has infuriated MPs from all parties, who blame her for the problems with the Brexit process.

It’s hard to see how her attack will help her win support for her deal in any third vote.

And the big question now is can MPs who don’t want her deal – or no deal – do anything about it between now and next Friday?

British politics feels at breaking point.

Mrs May was forced to seek a delay to Brexit after MPs twice rejected her deal by massive margins and voted to reject a no-deal departure.

She will travel to Brussels for a summit of EU leaders on Thursday, and is expected to discuss the extension with other member states.

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In her letter to Mr Tusk, the prime minister said she had wanted to hold another Commons vote on her withdrawal agreement this week but had been prevented from doing so by Speaker John Bercow.

On Monday, he ruled that bringing it back a third time in its current form would break longstanding conventions designed to prevent MPs from being repeatedly asked the same question.

Media captionPM: ‘Not prepared’ to delay Brexit beyond 30 June

During Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said she was leading the UK into “crisis, chaos and division”.

The SNP’s Pete Wishart, who wants another EU referendum, accused her of “caving in to Brexiteers”, while the Leave-backing Tory MP Peter Bone told her she would be “betraying” the public if she continued to seek to a delay.

Media captionConservative MP to May: “History will judge you at this moment”.

The prime minister met opposition parties to discuss her proposal for a delay on Wednesday evening ahead of her statement, but sources told the BBC Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn walked out and other leaders remained unimpressed with what they heard.

Mr Corbyn will travel to Brussels on Thursday to meet the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier. He is also expected to hold talks with several EU 27 leaders.

Meanwhile, an emergency debate took place in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon, with Labour pressing for further detail about the PM’s intentions and demanding that any delay is long enough to allow MPs to “break the impasse and find a way forward”.

Brexit: ‘Tired’ public needs a decision, says Theresa May}

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