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British lawmakers slammed Theresa May on Thursday, after the prime minister gave a televised address blaming members of Britain’s Parliament for her failure to pass a Brexit deal. One MP even accused her of “acting like Donald Trump.”
Members from all parties denounced May’s Wednesday night speech in which she told the public she was on their side, while blaming her parliamentary colleagues for failing to secure an orderly exit from the European Union.
“It is like she is some sort of Trump wannabe,” Labour Party MP Emily Thornberry told British broadcaster ITV. “It is not the way we do things… There is another way, and this is disgraceful.”
A member of May’s own Conservative Party anonymously told the Guardian, the prime minister was “acting like Donald Trump.”
“You, the public, have had enough,” May said in her televised address. “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. You want this stage of the Brexit process to be over and done with. I agree. I am on your side.”
Labour Party MP Wes Streeting said the speech increased the chances of lawmakers being the targets of death threats.
“If any harm comes to any of us, she will have to accept her share of responsibility,” he tweeted.
MPs were advised to travel home by taxi when leaving Parliament, over fears they could be attacked by angry voters over their handling of Brexit, PoliticsHome reported. Deputy Commons speaker Lindsay Hoyle added that police around the country had been put on alert over the threat MPs now face.
May’s plea to fellow lawmakers came at the end of another extraordinary day in Westminster during which the PM finally conceded that the U.K. had run out of time to agree a deal with the EU to leave the bloc by March 29.
May formally requested a short delay until June 30 in a letter sent Wednesday to President of the European Council Donald Tusk. She will travel to Brussels on Thursday to make her case in person in front of all 27 EU leaders — before being asked to leave the room so they can debate whether or not to grant her request.
Tusk indicated Wednesday that the EU may be willing to accede, but only if May gets Parliament to agree to the withdrawal agreement the two sides have spent the last two years negotiating.
The deal has already failed to get parliamentary approval on two occasions.
Ambassadors meeting Wednesday night concluded that any extension should only be granted until May 23, when EU elections are set to take place.
Backlash against May
May’s blaming of her colleagues in Westminster unsurprisingly led to a swift rebuke from all sides.
Members of the PM’s own Conservative Party have lashed out.
David Evennett told May that if she did not resolve the crisis “your time will have come to an end,” according to sources speaking to the Guardian. At a cabinet meeting earlier Tuesday, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox warned May that she risked “the end of the Conservative Party,” the Telegraph reported.
Labour Party member David Lammy calling May’s attack “sinister”:
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who earlier in the day walked out of a meeting with the prime minister after a former Labour lawmaker was also invited, said May had “no plan” to solve the impasse. “We are now in the midst of a full-scale national crisis,” Corbyn added.
What happens next?
If May does get EU approval for a delay to Brexit, it will be conditional on getting her deal through parliament, and there is little indication that she can convince enough MPs to vote for the deal they have already rejected twice.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Thursday that if the deal was rejected again, the U.K. would be faced with three options: revoke Article 50; leave without a deal; or a longer extension could be granted at an emergency EU summit, but with "onerous conditions.”
“The choice that we have now is one of resolving this issue or extreme unpredictability," Hunt told the BBC Thursday.
An online petition on the government website calling on May to revoke Article 50 — the legal mechanism by which the U.K. will leave the EU — has received more than 750,000 signatures and crashed the website. Interest has been fanned by a number of celebrities promoting the petition on social media.
Any petition that gets more than 100,000 signatures has to be debated in parliament, but it won’t be voted on and is unlikely to have a major impact on the outcome of Brexit.
With just eight days to go until the U.K. is scheduled to leave the EU, Britain is now considering whether to trigger Operation Yellowhammer, the emergency plan that will kick in in the event of a no deal Brexit.
Authorities in Kent, which is on the south coast of the U.K. and the location of some of the main ports serving Europe, has already begun implementing its emergency plans, in a bid to keep roads, schools and hospitals open.
Officials at the Department of Health have warned medicines suppliers to book space on ferries to ensure they are not caught up in long queues after March 29, in the event of no-deal.
Cover image: British Prime Minister, Theresa May addresses the nation after asking the European Union for a Brexit extension, at number 10 Downing Street on March 20, 2019 in London, England. (Jonathan Brady - WPA Pool/Getty Images)