LONDON (AFP) - London Mayor Sadiq Khan has urged Prime Minister Theresa May to delay Britain’s departure from the European Union, warning time has run out to rework her withdrawal agreement.
“It’s clear that we can’t reach a meaningful deal that’s agreed by parliament by March 29,” Khan, from Britain’s main opposition Labour Party, told AFP on Thursday.
“I’m hoping the prime minister sees sense and either extends the notice period for Article 50, or withdraws Article 50.”
Article 50 is the EU law that Britain invoked in 2017 triggering a two-year countdown to Brexit that ends at 11p.m. (2300 GMT) on March 29.
The country is currently on course to leave without an agreement after MPs in January overwhelmingly rejected a divorce deal May struck with the EU late last year.
The embattled leader is now seeking changes to the pact which she hopes will be enough to get it through parliament by March 12.
In her revised strategy unveiled this week, May has vowed that if her deal is rejected, lawmakers will vote in the following days on whether to leave without a deal or delay Brexit briefly.
But European leaders have warned any postponement would come with conditions.
Khan, a leading advocate for a second referendum on EU membership, argued Thursday that freezing the process by unilaterally withdrawing Article 50 was the most feasible way forward.
“Lets do it... stop the clock,” he said. “The deal the prime minister’s negotiated, even if she’s able to improve it, is a bad deal... parliament’s in gridlock.
“In those circumstances I think the British public should be allowed to... have a say,” the mayor added.
“Why are these Brexiteers so scared of giving the British public a say?”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn this week said the party would support holding a second referendum after its own Brexit plan was rejected by MPs.
But May’s Conservatives are fiercly opposed to the move, arguing it would be a betrayal of democracy.
The mayor unveiled Thursday new research showing that despite heightened anxiety over the shape of Britain’s future relationship with the EU, London attracted more foreign direct investment last year than any other city in the world.
“Even with the uncertainty that’s come with Brexit, we’re going from strength to strength as a global financial capital and a hub for technology and innovation,” he said at a business awards event late Thursday.