The Prime Minister has said that if Parliament cannot agree a deal, but rejects leaving without one, the government will seek to extend Article 50.
In a statement to the Commons today, Theresa May said she wanted to address concerns that “time is running out” for Parliament to find a deal.
However she maintained that the government’s “absolute focus” was on leaving on 29 March with a deal, and repeated her objection to revoking Article 50.
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May said: “Let me be clear, I do not want to see Article 50 extended. Our absolute focus should be on working to get a deal and leaving on 29 March.
“An extension beyond the end of June would mean the UK taking part in the European Parliament elections. What kind of message would that send to the more than 17 million people who voted to leave the EU?”
She added: “An extension cannot take no deal off the table. The only way to do that is to revoke Article 50, which I shall not do, or agree a deal.”
May hit out at the “Letwin-Cooper Agreement” that would see Parliament take control of the Brexit negotiations, due to be tabled tomorrow.
“Just as government requires the support of this House in delivering the vote of the British people, so the House should respect the proper functions of the Government,” the Prime Minister said.
She added: “Tying the Government’s hands by seeking to commandeer the order paper would have far-reaching implications for the way in which the United Kingdom is governed and the balance of powers and responsibilities in our democratic institutions.
“And it would offer no solution to the challenge of finding a deal which this House can support.”
Corbyn: May is "running down the clock"
The Prime Minister condemned Labour's support for a second referendum. Image: Getty
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said unless May could be clear about what alternative she would put forward if her deal was voted down, she was “continuing to run down the clock”
"If the Government wants a genuine renegotiation it should do so on terms that can win a majority of this House, on terms backed by businesses and unions and that are contained within Labour's amendment, which I urge the whole House to back tomorrow," he added.
May hit back at Corbyn’s announcement to the Parliamentary Labour Party that the party would support a second referendum.
"He has gone back on his promise to respect the referendum result and now wants to hold a divisive second referendum that would take our country right back to square one," she said.
"Anyone who voted Labour at the last election because they thought he would deliver Brexit will rightly be appalled."