Britain could seek to agree a further “minimalist” withdrawal deal with the European Union if British lawmakers reject Prime Minister Theresa May’s divorce agreement, House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom said on Thursday.
Britain will leave the EU in 99 days time on March 29 and if parliament cannot pass the divorce terms agreed by May, Leadsom said a “managed” no deal withdrawal was an option.
“In the event that we cannot pass the prime minister’s withdrawal agreement … then what we will need to do is to look at what the alternatives are, and a managed no-deal where we collaborate with the European Union … would be an alternative solution that the European Union … might well find is also in their interest,” Leadsom told BBC radio.
“A managed no deal does not mean necessarily mean that there is no withdrawal agreement at all. What I am looking at is trying to find an alternative that in the event we cannot agree to this deal, that there could be a further deal that looks at a more minimalist approach … that avoids a cliff edge.”
France’s European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau said on Thursday that Britain can still hold a second Brexit referendum.
“The door remains open, but it will be up to them to choose, not us,” Loiseau told French TV station CNews.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is among those leading calls for a second Brexit referendum as Prime Minister Theresa May faces deadlock in parliament over her deal to leave the European Union.
May has consistently ruled out a second referendum as an option.
France was also taking measures to minimise any potential impact if Britain were to leave the EU without a Brexit deal, Loiseau said, repeating previous statements to that effect.
In October, French Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin said France was hiring 700 additional customs officers and extra border control facilities in case Britain left the EU without a Brexit deal.