LONDON (AP) — British lawmakers were voting Thursday on whether to scuttle the already dwindling chances the U.K. will leave the European Union this month as scheduled, but EU officials warned they would only allow a delay if the country made a fundamental shift in its approach to Brexit.
Prime Minister Theresa May grudgingly granted the vote after Parliament twice rejected her EU divorce deal and also ruled out leaving the EU without an agreement. Withdrawing from the EU without a deal could mean major disruptions for businesses and people in the U.K. and the 27 remaining countries.
The vote in Parliament was on whether to seek a delay of at least three months to Brexit, which currently is due to take place March 29.
The legislative defeats have shredded May’s authority and obliterated her control of a fractious Conservative minority government. On Wednesday, a dozen government ministers abstained rather than support May’s bid to keep a no-deal Brexit as an option, while another voted against, and resigned.
Despite the rebuffs and the political chaos, May has signaled she will try a third time to get backing for the agreement next week.
Britain faces TWO YEARS of Brexit limbo: Tusk opens the door to a lengthy delay if May loses a third time – but hardcore Brexiteers refuse to budge and their ringleader says: ‘I was in the Army, I wasn’t trained to lose’
- Donald Tusk will urge EU leaders to agree a ‘long extension’ to Article 50 to give Britain time to ‘rethink’
- Irish leader Leo Varadkar said if the UK reverses Brexit it would be welcomed back ‘like the prodigal son’
- MPs could vote on Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement again next week despite rejecting it twice already
- Last night MPs voted to rule out No Deal in all circumstances in another Commons humiliation for the PM
- Sixteen Tory ministers and aides refused to back the Government on No Deal – ignoring a three-line whip
- The vote is not binding – meaning a cliff-edge exit remains the default option if there is no extension or deal
- The Commons will vote on an Article 50 extension tonight but Brussels has voiced doubt about allowing one
Donald Tusk today revealed he will urge EU leaders to agree a ‘long extension’ to Article 50 – delaying Brexit by up to two years to give the UK time to ‘rethink’ – if Theresa May‘s deal is voted down a third time next week.
The President of the European Council’s intervention on Twitter this morning will bolster claims that the UK would not leave the EU until 2021 unless Mrs May can persuade the DUP and Brexiteers to back her divorce deal – because some in the EU want to play ‘hardball’ and push for a delay of two years.
Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney also said today the EU is likely to offer Britain a 21-month delay to Brexit while Taoiseach Leo Varadkar added that if the UK changes its mind it would be welcomed back ‘like the prodigal son’.
The PM’s deal will be put to another vote next week, just 15 days before the country is due to leave the EU on 29 March, after MPs including a ‘gang of four’ rebellious Cabinet members helped to vote to permanently rule out No Deal Brexit.
May told the Commons that if she loses a third time she will forced to ask Brussels for a long delay to Britain’s departure from the EU at a summit on Thursday.
Today Chancellor Philip Hammond hinted that Attorney General Geoffrey Cox could revisit his legal advice on whether Britain would be trapped in the Irish backstop ‘indefinitely’ – giving Brexiteers and the DUP a reason to climbdown and back May’s deal.
THE House of Commons tonight crushed a Remainer bid to secure a second referendum on Brexit.
But MPs are still set to back a delay to Brexit which means we WON’T quit the EU on March 29 as planned.
Brexiteers have reacted with anger after the House of Commons voted to stop the UK leaving the EU without a deal, whilst the Tory Party is in disarray after Prime Minister Theresa May lost control of her own motion.
Veteran Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage said immediately after the vote, “A total disgrace, Parliament no longer represents the people,” adding, “This is a Parliament of outright liars. We will have to fight them again. And mark my words — we will beat them once more.”
Mr Farage later penned a piece for The Telegraph, where he confirmed what he had written in 2017 that “The great Brexit betrayal has begun,” noting, “Well, although it pains me to say it, the vote in Parliament to take no deal off the table proves that, 20 months ago, I was right.”
A total disgrace, Parliament no longer represents the people. t.co/yDYxbr0DQT
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) March 13, 2019