British Prime Minister Theresa May is facing widespread pressure to quit but can her lawmakers actually force her from office? May has already promised she will resign to let someone else negotiate Britain's future relationship with the EU and has agreed to set out the timetable for her departure after putting her exit deal to another vote in parliament early next month. But an attempt to relaunch her European Union divorce deal with sweeteners aimed at winning over sceptics in her own party and opponents has been loudly criticised.
The Queen could be called upon to stop a no-deal Brexit under plans by a former cabinet minister.
Sir Ed Davey, who is standing to be the new Liberal Democrat leader, revealed he would urge other opposition parties to support a "humble address to Her Majesty" should the UK near departing the EU without a divorce agreement.
This would require the prime minister to revoke the Article 50 notification of the UK's intent to leave the EU.
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A humble address is a parliamentary motion that acts as a direct message from the House of Commons to the Queen, calling on the government to comply with a request.
Such a humble address, considered to be binding, was used by Labour in November to force the government to release its full legal advice on the Brexit deal.
Speaking at his leadership campaign launch on Thursday, Sir Ed said he would propose a "cross-party humble address to Her Majesty, requiring the prime minister to revoke Article 50 if we got to the cliff edge".
He called on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to "join me in that address".
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Sir Ed also said, under his leadership, the Lib Dems would "continue to lead the fight to stop Brexit", as he claimed: "Nothing is more urgent in British politics today".
The Lib Dems will announce their successor to departing leader Sir Vince Cable on 23 July.
Sir Ed, who served in the coalition government as energy and climate change secretary, is likely to face competition for the Lib Dem leadership from current deputy leader Jo Swinson.
Lib Dem education spokesperson Layla Moran, who had also been considered among the frontrunners for the leadership, announced earlier this month she would not be entering the contest.
Pictures: Brexit - a timeline
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Back in January 2013, then-British Prime Minister David Cameron declared that he is in favour of an in-out referendum, sometime in the future, to create a new settlement for the U.K. in the European Union (EU). It set in motion a series of negotiations between the two bodies over the formal’s withdrawal from the latter, popularly known as Brexit.
We take a look at a timeline of the negotiations and some of Brexit’s most important developments so far.
Led by Cameron (pictured), the Conservative Party launched its manifesto for the 2015 General Election, which pledged a “real change in our relationship with the European Union.” The party also declared it will hold an in-out referendum “before the end of 2017.” The Conservatives eventually went on to win the election.
In the House of Commons, Cameron announced the date for the EU referendum to be June 23, 2016. The government also published their policy paper titled “The best of both worlds: the United Kingdom's special status in a reformed European Union.”
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Nov. 3, 2016: High Court passes judgement in Gina Miller case
Earlier in 2016, activist Gina Miller (pictured) had brought a case against the British government, saying it doesn’t have the authority to implement Brexit without an approval from the Parliament. On this day, the High Court found the case in favor of the claimants, enabling the Parliament to play a key role in Brexit. The government said it would appeal against the decision. It later lost this appeal.
EU-27 (European Union countries except for the U.K.) members met for the first time since the triggering of Article 50, adopting the guidelines for Brexit negotiation ahead.
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Meanwhile, the U.K. government released the “Northern Ireland and Ireland Position Paper,” which clarified how the nation planned to handle the situation of Northern Ireland and Ireland in light of Brexit.
(Pictured) European Council President Donald Tusk speaks at a conference after the EU-27 meet.
The General Election resulted in a hung Parliament. May formed a minority government as the Conservatives won more seats, but would heavily rely on support from the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland for key votes.
The EU-27 nations decided upon new seats for two EU agencies, which were based in the U.K. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) was moved to Amsterdam, Netherlands (pictured), while the European Banking Authority (EBA) moved to Paris, France.
Feb. 28, 2018: Draft for withdrawal agreement published
The European Commission published the draft titled “Withdrawal Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom,” based on reports from the first phase of negotiations.
The draft proposed that Northern Ireland would act as a “customs territory” of the EU. May responded that no prime minister could “ever agree” with it and added that such a move would “undermine the U.K. common market and threaten the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.”
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Marking one year to go until Brexit, May paid a visit to each nation of the U.K., promising that only such a Brexit deal will be delivered which works for every community and also protects the integrity of the nation.
The British Cabinet met at Chequers, the country house of the prime minister, to hash out their differences and reach a collective position for future Brexit negotiations. It was decided that the proposals would be published as White Paper in the following days. While the Cabinet formally endorsed May’s idea for a U.K.-EU Free Trade Area, it questioned the Government’s proposed future relationship with the EU.
July 9, 2018: David Davis and Boris Johnson resign
Not happy with how the U.K. was “giving away too much and too easily” to the EU, Brexit Secretary David Davis resigned, along with Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Secretary Boris Johnson. Dominic Raab was appointed as the new Brexit Secretary.
At an informal summit of EU leaders in Salzburg, Austria, May gave a speech on the latest developments. The main component of her plan for a post-Brexit relationship was strongly opposed, leading her to warn that she would walk away from the discussions if no deal could be reached.
Citing his opposition to the Withdrawal Agreement, Raab resigned from the Cabinet, along with other ministers such as Brexit Undersecretary Suella Braverman and Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey.
In a short statement outside 10 Downing Street, May said, “The British people want this to be settled. They want a good deal that sets us on course for a brighter future. That deal is within our grasp and I am determined to deliver it.”
While addressing the House of Commons on exiting the European Union, the Prime Minister announced a delay to the Meaningful Vote (which ratifies the Withdrawal Agreement), which was planned to be held the following day, saying, “If we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow, the deal would be rejected by a significant margin.”
British firm Seaborne Freight was awarded a £13.8 million contract by the Government to run extra ferries between Ramsgate, England, and Ostend, Belgium, if a no-deal Brexit takes place. The move raised major concerns as the company had never run a ferry service before.
Marking a huge blow to May, the Members of Parliament voted to rule out a no-deal Brexit. They also asked the government to seek permission from the EU to extend Article 50, which meant extending the deadline for departure.
The EU agreed a short extension to the Brexit deadline, offering the date of May 22, 2019 (if May can get her Brexit deal passed) and April 12, 2019 (if not). The Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) warned that the nation may face a national emergency over Brexit.
May told Conservative lawmakers that she would step down if Parliament approved her plan for withdrawal. “I know there is a desire for a new approach, and new leadership, in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations, and I won’t stand in the way of that," the Prime Minister said. She did not specify when she would step down.
On the day the U.K. was supposed to withdraw from the EU, Parliament rejected May's withdrawal agreement a third time. The government lost by 344 votes to 286. In response to the vote, the EU planned an emergency summit on April 10 to discuss its next move.
April 2, 2019: Alternatives dismissed in indicative voting
Following the government's failure to pass May's withdrawal agreement through Parliament a third time, a second series of indicative votes by MPs resulted in the proposed Brexit alternatives - including a 'customs union' relationship with the bloc, a 'common market 2.0', and a second referendum - being rejected. Such an outcome means increasing government pressure to receive Parliamentary backing on May's deal, or to seek a long Brexit extension to avoid a no-deal scenario.
(Pictured) A Westminster City Council employee sweeps the street in front of 10 Downing Street in London, England on April 1, 2019.
With the House of Commons voting by 313 votes to 312 - a majority of one - on Labour member Yvette Cooper's bill that the Prime Minister must ask the EU for a further extension to Brexit, Theresa May wrote to Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, seeking an additional delay until June 30, 2019. The extension would ostensibly provide the U.K. more time to move beyond the current Parliamentary impasse over Brexit.
(Pictured) A combination photo shows a copy of Prime Minister Theresa May's letter to Donald Tusk, seeking an additional Brexit delay, in London, England on April 5, 2019.
April 11, 2019: 'Flexible' extension approved until Halloween
After Theresa May proposed a delay of June 30, 2019 to EU leaders, a longer extension of up to Oct. 31, 2019 was agreed by the EU27 just 48 hours before the U.K. was scheduled to leave the bloc without a deal. This longer extension includes a break clause allowing the U.K. to leave before October if a withdrawal agreement is passed through the House of Commons. While the delay means Britain avoids a hard Brexit in April, the country must now participate in European elections in May.
(Pictured) European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk hold a news conference in Brussels, Belgium after EU leaders discuss Brexit on April 11, 2019.
The British prime minister announced that she will step down from her post on June 7, 2019. "It is now clear to me that it is in the best interest of the U.K. for a new PM to lead that effort," she said.
How the Queen may become involved in Brexit.
It would require an extraordinary move.
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