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May to Brexit rebels: The UK Parliament can’t ‘tie the hands’ of my government

David Reid

The prime minister of the United Kingdom told CNBC that Parliament can't "tie the hands" of her government when it comes to Brexit negotiations.

The prime minister managed to avert a rebellion among some parliamentarians Tuesday, who were calling for a decisive say if the U.K. ends up walking away from the European Union without a deal — a so-called "no deal" scenario.

It is understood that the victory was made possible by offering promises that Parliament will have a meaningful say on the final details of Brexit.

Speaking shortly after hosting a roundtable of tech leaders at her Downing Street offices, May told CNBC's Steve Sedgwick that while Parliament could offer government support, it was up to her cabinet to determine policy.

"There are different responsibilities for government and Parliament and Parliament can't tie the government's hands in negotiations," she said Wednesday.

The U.K. Parliament is made up of elected representatives from around the country. The ruling government, which runs the country, is formed by whichever party that secures the most members of that parliament. "Cabinet" is a collective term for the most senior members of a U.K. government and is hand-picked by the prime minister.


U.K. lawmakers will get to vote on the final deal in the Parliament before the exit date of 29 March, 2019, and May added that, in her view, the Parliament was always going to get a meaningful say.

The U.K. leader added, however, that she was reluctant to reveal her full negotiating strategy.

"I said right at the very beginning of this that nobody would expect us to give a running commentary on our negotiating strategy and the negotiations we are involved in," she added.

The next key date in the Brexit timeline comes on October 31 of this year. The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said negotiations must be complete before that date to give the 27 remaining EU countries time to sign off the deal.


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