LONDON — In a major concession, British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday offered U.K. lawmakers the chance to vote on whether to hold a new referendum on the country's membership in the European Union — but only if it backs her thrice-rejected Brexit agreement.
May made the offer as part of attempts to persuade Parliament to back a divorce agreement that will allow the U.K. to leave the EU in an orderly fashion.
She plans to ask the House of Commons to vote in early June on a withdrawal agreement bill, in what she called a "last chance" to seal a Brexit deal.
In a speech Tuesday, May said the bill would include "a requirement to vote on whether to hold a second referendum and this must take place before the Withdrawal Agreement can be ratified."
"I do not believe that this is a route she should take, but I recognize the genuine and sincere strength of feeling" on the issue, she said.
But the Brexit referendum will only happen if Parliament backs the EU withdrawal bill and it becomes law, something that still seems unlikely.
Britain was due to leave the EU on March 29, but the bloc extended the deadline until Oct. 31 amid the political impasse. Talks on securing a compromise on the Brexit deal between May's Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party broke down last week.
May says she will try again the week of June 3 by asking lawmakers to vote on a withdrawal agreement bill implementing the departure terms.
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