LONDON (AP) — The Latest on Brexit (all times local):
British lawmakers will hold a non-binding debate next week on canceling the country’s departure from the European Union, after an online petition calling for Brexit to be stopped amassed more than 5.7 million signatures.
Under U.K. law, any petition on the government site with more than 100,000 signatures must be considered for a debate in Parliament. It will not be put to a vote, however.
The Commons Petitions Committee said Tuesday that the call to revoke Article 50 — the official declaration of Britain’s intention to leave — was “the most signed petition ever received” on the government site.
It will be debated Monday alongside two rival petitions. One calling for a new EU membership referendum has received more than 120,000 signatures, and another – signed by more than 140,000 – demands Britain leave the bloc without a deal.
Members of the European Union’s parliament have welcomed political developments in Britain, where the House of Commons wrested standoff.
After months of fruitless waiting for Prime Minister Theresa May to get lawmakers’ approval for the divorce deal she and EU leaders struck last year, Roberto Gualtieri, a member of the European Parliament’s Brexit steering committee, said the move in London on Monday “is very positive.”
The steering committee met Tuesday. Gualtieri said: “The prime minister has been unable to provide, to deliver on the deal…so yesterday’s vote is very positive and we look forward to the capacity of this Parliament to provide a clear positive majority on a closer EU-UK relationship or on giving back the word to the people.”
His “giving back the word to the people” refers to discussion of a possible second U.K. voter referendum on Brexit.
EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said as he entered the steering group meeting that “all eyes (are on) the British Parliament”
Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party says it won’t be bullied into backing Prime Minister Theresa May’s “toxic” European Union divorce deal, increasing the odds against the agreement getting passed in Parliament.
The party’s Brexit spokesman wrote in a piece published by national newspaper The Daily Telegraph on Tuesday that DUP lawmakers won’t support May’s withdrawal agreement with the EU unless it is amended to address concerns it could tie the United Kingdom to the bloc indefinitely.
Party spokesman Sammy Wilson said extending Brexit negotiations by one year would be preferable to “volunteering to be locked into the prison of the withdrawal deal with the cell door key in the pocket of Michel Barnier,” the EU’s chief negotiator.
The DUP controls 10 crucial votes in the House of Commons, and many hard-line Brexit supporters may follow the party’s lead when deciding how to vote.
The European Parliament’s top Brexit official says that “we see for the moment a real Brexit revolt” in the United Kingdom, with over 5 million people signing an online petition to revoke Britain’s decision to leave the EU and a million taking to the streets to stay in the EU.
Guy Verhofstadt said Tuesday he felt especially encouraged by the vote in the House of Commons seizing more control over the stalled Brexit process and setting up a series of votes this week that could dramatically alter the course of the U.K.’s departure.
Verhofstadt said that “it is possible now to work in Britain toward a cross-party alliance,” adding that “I hope it will lead to a proposal that can be backed by a majority” in Westminster.
British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government says Parliament’s decision to take control of the stalled process of leaving the European Union underscores the need for lawmakers to approve her twice-defeated deal.
The House of Commons voted Monday to take control of the parliamentary timetable on Wednesday so lawmakers can vote on alternatives to the withdrawal agreement May negotiated with the EU. The government usually controls the scheduling of votes in Parliament.
But Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC on Tuesday that the government won’t “pre-commit” to accepting the option backed by lawmakers.
Hancock says lawmakers should support the prime minister’s agreement because “the best way through this impasse is the one deal that’s been negotiated with the EU.”
Follow AP’s full coverage of Brexit at: https://www.apnews.com/Brexit
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