U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May offered Parliament a vote on whether to hold a second Brexit referendum as part of concessions she hopes will improve the prospects of getting her deal passed. But the opposition Labour Party seemed little impressed.
Sterling, which was trading little changed against the dollar after May's statement, was down 0.2% as of 2:20 p.m. ET.
May said the vote would only take place if lawmakers backed her withdrawal agreement in the first round of voting.
"So to those MPs who want a second referendum to confirm the deal: you need a deal and therefore a withdrawal agreement bill to make it happen," May said in a speech outlining new Brexit proposals. "So let it have its second reading and then make your case to Parliament."
May maintained that she personally opposed a second referendum, but said she recognized strong sentiment among lawmakers regarding the issue.
Earlier versions of May's Brexit deal have been defeated three times in the House of Commons, which also rejected alternative Brexit plans in a series of indicative votes, including a second referendum proposal.
If lawmakers again fail to agree on a Brexit deal or a way forward, the U.K. remains on track to crash out of the EU Oct. 31 without a withdrawal agreement.
"Reject this deal and leaving the EU with a negotiated deal any time soon will be dead in the water," May said, warning that Parliament, in that case, would be left with the options of holding a general election and the second referendum, assuming no one wants a no-deal Brexit scenario.
As part of what May called a 10-point offer to Parliament to finally get her Brexit deal approved, May said there will be a vote for lawmakers on whether the deal should be subject to a referendum. She also raised the possibility of closer trading arrangements with the EU.
May had offered the opposition Labour Party a compromise option of a temporary customs union on goods, including a U.K. say in EU trade policy and an ability to change the arrangement
"We were not able to agree this as part of our cross-party talks — so it is right that Parliament should have the opportunity to resolve this during the passage of the bill and decide between the government's proposal and a compromise option," the prime minister said.
Jeremy Corbyn said the offer is merely packaged differently and reflects "the same old bad deal," which his Labour party would not back.
May said the government will make the case for her Brexit deal in Parliament and in the media over the next two weeks. She will give a statement to the House of Commons on May 22.
"I say with conviction to every MP of every party — I have compromised. Now I ask you to compromise too," said May, who has already agreed to set out a timetable for her departure as the Conservative Party's leader after the fourth vote on her Brexit deal in June.