LONDON (AA): British Prime Minister Theresa May said Tuesday she will bring a new Brexit deal to parliament that will include a provision for a vote on whether to hold a fresh public poll on leaving the European Union.
May made the announcement following a cabinet meeting.
She said the government will be publishing the new European Union Withdrawal Agreement Bill in the coming days and it is likely to be debated in parliament during the first week of June.
May also said she will put the government under a legal obligation to seek alternative arrangements to the Irish backstop by December 2020.
The backstop issue has been one of the most problematic points of the previously negotiated agreement, and May’s deal has been rejected three times by the House of Commons.
She also said she will legislate to stop a future government splitting Northern Ireland off from Britain in regulatory terms if the alternative arrangements are not in place by the end of 2020.
“This new Brexit deal contains significant further changes to protect the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom and deliver Brexit,” May said.
“The negotiating objectives and final treaties for our future relationship with the EU will have to be approved by MPs.”
She also said the new deal will pave the way for a new Workers’ Rights Bill that will guarantee workers’ rights will be no less favorable than in the European Union.
May said she agreed in talks with the opposition that “we must have as close as possible to frictionless trade at the U.K.-EU border.”
– Second referendum
May said if the House of Commons were to vote for a referendum, it would be requiring the government to make provisions for such a referendum – including legislation if it wanted to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement.
“So to those MPs who want a second referendum to confirm the deal: you need a deal and therefore a Withdrawal Agreement Bill to make it happen,” she added.
“The government will therefore include in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at introduction a requirement to vote on whether to hold a second referendum,” she said.
“This must take place before the Withdrawal Agreement can be ratified.”
May has repeatedly said until today’s statement that she did not want to bring a second referendum.
The new deal is expected to be brought to parliament in the week of June 3, when U.S. President Donald Trump is due to start a state visit to the U.K.
The U.K. secured an extension to the Brexit date until Oct. 31 after the government failed to pass the withdrawal agreement before the previous deadlines of March 31 and April 12.
U.K. voters decided to leave the bloc after more than 40 years of membership in a 2016 referendum.