July 17, 2018 / 6:54 PM / a year ago

May U-turns on plan to give lawmakers extended summer holiday

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May waits to greet U.S. President Donald Trump at Chequers near Aylesbury, Britain July 13, 2018. Jack Taylor/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Theresa May cancelled an attempt on Tuesday to end parliament early and give lawmakers an extended summer holiday, as members of parliament criticised the move as a ploy to ease pressure on her leadership.

The government had taken the unusual step on Monday of proposing to bring forward the closure of parliament for the summer to July 19 from July 24.

But, with only 255 days until Britain leaves the EU, and May’s Brexit plan in danger of being wrecked before she can even begin negotiating it with Brussels, lawmakers from all parties publicly signalled they would not back the move.

The government opted not to press ahead with the plan in parliament late on Tuesday.

Parliament is scheduled to return on Sept. 4 for seven working days, before closing again for almost a month while the major parties hold their annual conferences.

Negotiations in Brussels will continue over the summer, and both sides hope that a comprehensive withdrawal agreement and an outline of the future UK-EU relationship will be agreed in time to be signed off at an October meeting of EU leaders.

However, May’s leadership is under pressure after the publication of her plan to negotiate close trade ties with the EU ignited a rebellion on both the pro-EU and eurosceptic wings of her party.

A series of knife-edge votes have brought home the reality of trying to pass legislation on one of the most divisive and important decisions in modern British history with only a minority government and a party at war with itself.

Reporting by William James. Editing by Andrew MacAskill

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