Theresa May has stressed that an amendment to the EU withdrawal bill allowing the government to change the date of Brexit will be used only in “extremely exceptional circumstances”, as she was pressured on the issue at prime minister’s questions.
May was quizzed by two strongly pro-Brexit Conservative MPs over the amendment, which ministers hope will avoid another defeat on the bill for the government later on Wednesday.
Other Tory MPs have expressed disquiet at a government amendment enshrining the date of Brexit as 29 March 2019, saying this is overly inflexible. The government appears set to accept a change to this amendment by another Conservative, Oliver Letwin, allowing the date to be changed.
Julian Lewis, the New Forest East MP, told May he was concerned at the Letwin plan.
“May I seek an assurance from the prime minister that its provisions to change the date of leaving the EU will be invoked only, if at all, under extremely exceptional circumstances, and only for a very short period?” he said.