After marathon Cabinet talks lasting almost eight hours, the Prime Minister spoke from Downing Street, announcing her intension to seek a further extension of Article 50, and offered to reach across the aisle to the opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn.
As ministers were held in Downing Street, presumably so that she could get the message out first, Mrs May took to the lectern as she often does on days of significance along the Brexit process.
She said that she would be seeking a further extension to Article 50, “one that is as short as possible”. This would delay Britain’s exit from the European Union for a second time.
She also announced her intention to hold talks with the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn in an attempt to break the Brexit impasse that has consumed Westminster for weeks now.
“This debate and division cannot drag on much longer”, she said.
“It is putting members of Parliament, and everyone else under immense pressure, and it is doing damage to our politics.
She said the intention of sitting down with the Labour leader was to agree a plan that they “would both stick to, to ensure we leave the European Union, and do so with a deal.”
She continued: “Any plan would have to agree the current Withdrawal Agreement. It has already been negotiated with the 27 other members and the EU has repeatedly said it cannot and will not be re-opened.”
The Prime Minister said any agreement reached between herself and Mr Corbyn would be put before the Commons in time for her to take it to the EU at next week’s European Council summitf
If a deal between the two leaders cannot be agreed, a series of alternatives will be put before the House for MPs to vote on: “Crucially the government stands ready to abide by the decision of the House.”
Prime Minister May insisted that whatever outcome is reached, Britain must be out of the European Union by May 22 “so the United Kingdom need not take part in European Parliamentary Elections.”
She concluded: “This is a decisive moment in the story of these Islands, and it requires national unity to deliver the national interest.”
Last night Tory MP Nick Boles resigned the party whip from the floor of the Commons, blaming the Conservatives’ “refusal to compromise” for the crisis surrounding Britain’s exit from the EU.
Following PM May’s address, Mr Boles tweeted that her statement was “very welcome”, adding “this is the right approach.”
European Council president Donald Tusk also responded to the Prime Minister’s statement on Twitter, posting: “Even if, after today, we don’t know what the end result will be, let us be patient.”