British lawmakers lined up to criticise Prime Minister Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement Bill as some upped efforts to oust her.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May delivers a speech in London. May 21, 2019.
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May delivers a speech in London. May 21, 2019. (AP)

British Prime Minister Theresa May's final Brexit gambit was in tatters on Wednesday just hours after her offer of a vote on a second referendum and closer trading arrangements failed to win over either opposition lawmakers or many in her own party.

Nearly three years since Britain voted 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the European Union, May is trying one last time to get her divorce deal approved by the British parliament before her crisis-riven premiership ends.

May on Tuesday appealed to lawmakers to get behind her deal, offering the prospect of a possible second referendum on the agreement and closer trading arrangements with the EU as incentives.

TRT World's Sarah Morice reports from London.

Conservative and Labour lawmakers lined up to criticise May's Withdrawal Agreement Bill, or WAB, legislation which implements the terms of Britain's departure. Some upped efforts to oust her.

"We are being asked to vote for a customs union and a second referendum," Boris Johnson, the bookies favourite to be Britain's next prime minister, said.

"The Bill is directly against our manifesto - and I will not vote for it. We can and must do better - and deliver what the people voted for," he said.

'Admit defeat'

The opposition Labour Party said May should not put her deal to a fourth vote in parliament.

"I genuinely think it would be sensible for the Prime Minister to say I will not now put this package to the vote," Labour's Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer told the BBC.

"It's far too weak. It doesn't really offer anything new or anything bold," he said.

"It's already pretty clear that it's heading for a pretty big loss and I think frankly the prime minister would do well to just admit defeat and I think she should announce today that she's not going to put the vote because it's clearly heading in the wrong direction," he added.

May wrote to Corbyn, asking him to compromise so that Brexit could take place.

"I have shown today that I am willing to compromise to deliver Brexit for the British people," May wrote. "The WA is our last chance to do so," May said.

"I ask you to compromise too so that we can deliver what both our parties promised in our manifestos and restore faith in our politics," she said.

Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May's minority government, said the "fatal flaws" of her original deal remained. They fear the divorce deal could see Northern Ireland split from the rest of the United Kingdom.

Such is the discord that some Conservative Party lawmakers have begun a new push to oust her even earlier so that she doesn't have the chance to put her Brexit plan to a vote in parliament, the BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg said. 

June vote

The British government will reflect on how people react to May's Brexit deal, environment minister Michael Gove said on Wednesday when asked whether there will definitely be a vote in the week of June 3 on the bill.

"We will reflect over the course of the next few days on how people look at the proposition that’s been put forward," he told BBC radio.

"There has to be a vote on a withdrawal agreement implementation bill," he said.

The deadlock in London means it is unclear how, when or even if Britain will leave the European club it joined in 1973. The current deadline to leave is Oct. 31.

Britain’s labyrinthine crisis over Brexit has stunned allies and foes alike, and with a deadlock in London, the world's fifth largest economy faces an array of options including an exit with a deal to smooth the transition, a no-deal exit, an election or a second referendum.

Can anyone force PM May to resign?

Conservative Members of Parliament cannot use the party's formal process to challenge May until December because they tried and failed to oust her in December 2018.

The rules of the process state that May is immune to further challenge for 12 months from the date of any failed leadership challenge.

It is possible for the committee which represents Conservative lawmakers - known as the 1922 Committee - to change the rules of the process, but they have so far chosen not to do so.

Parliament can vote on whether it has confidence in May's government. If a majority of lawmakers decide they do not, she could be forced to step aside.

After losing a vote of confidence there are 14 days in which she could try to retain power by winning another confidence vote.
In this period, the opposition Labour Party can also try to form their own government.

A general election is called if no government with majority support in parliament can be formed after 14 days.

In the absence of a formal route to get rid of May that does not risk a general election, Conservative lawmakers and activists are looking at alternative ways to apply pressure.

May previously said she was not prepared to delay Brexit beyond June 30, but she has now agreed with the EU that Britain could remain a member until the end of October.

These words have been used to make the case that she has to stand down, as have recent heavy losses in local government elections. An expected heavy defeat in European Parliament elections this week is also likely to add to this.

Both elected Conservatives and grassroots members are exploring whether there is any way for them to change the party rules to get another shot at ousting May, or whether petitions and no-confidence letters could bring about a change. 

Source: Reuters