May said she would bring a package to lawmakers that would include a Parliamentary vote “on whether the deal should be subject to a referendum."
This is the first time government policy gives lawmakers the chance to vote on a second referendum, after the first referendum in 2016 saw the British public vote in favor of leaving the European Union.
To be clear, this does not guarantee a second referendum – it merely gives lawmakers the chance to vote on whether the U.K. should have another referendum.
If lawmakers reject her deal, May said they risked “no Brexit at all.”
“Look at what this debate is doing to our politics,” May said in her speech. “Extending it for months more – perhaps indefinitely – risks opening the door to a nightmare future of permanently polarized politics.”
The new plan was roundly criticized on all sides.
Margaret Beckett, a prominent supporter of a second referendum on the Brexit deal and a Member of Parliament (MP), described the new plan as a “hotchpotch offer.”
“The prime minister’s last-ditch effort to force through her deal is no more likely to succeed than her previous attempts,” she said in a statement. “Today she tried to spice up the same old deal with a series of supposedly new concessions, but then admitted she had no way of guaranteeing that she could deliver any of them.”
The opposition Labour Party have also said it will vote against the new plan.
Several lawmakers who previously voted in favor of May’s deal, which has been defeated in Parliament three times in 2019, said they would not be voting for it.
Boris Johnson, an MP from May’s own Conservative Party who has announced his intention to run for prime minister should May step down, said that he “will not vote for it.”
MP Dominic Raab, who is also expected to run for the Conservative leadership, said that he “cannot support legislation that would be the vehicle for a second referendum.”
The Scottish MP Ian Blackford said May was “fooling no one but herself” and “her time is up” in Wednesday’s session of Prime Minister’s Questions, the weekly opportunity lawmakers have to scrutinize the government.
The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg said that she had been hearing from more and more lawmakers, including those previously loyal to the prime minister, that “May has to go now.”
May has already said she will resign if the deal is accepted and last week bowed to pressure from her own party to agree to a “timetable for departure” if the deal is defeated.
On Thursday, the U.K. will vote in the European elections – an embarrassing moment for lawmakers who had promised to leave the EU on March 29, nearly three years after Britain voted to leave the EU.