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UK Parliament rejects leaving the EU without a Brexit deal
Parliament says it doesn’t want a no-deal Brexit. Now it will vote on whether to ask the European Union for a delay, as Prime Minister Theresa May pushes for a third vote on her Brexit deal.
The deeply divided British Parliament can only seem to agree on one thing: It doesn’t want the United Kingdom to leave the European Union without a deal.
The UK Parliament rejected a “no deal” Brexit on Wednesday. This was part of a series of votes that Prime Minister Theresa May promised would take place this week, and it followed another humiliating defeat of her Brexit deal in Parliament on Tuesday.
The outcome of this no-deal vote played out as expected, though the process was somewhat strange. Members of Parliament introduced and approved an amendment to May’s motion (which specifically ruled out a no-deal exit on March 29) to eliminate a no-deal Brexit altogether. That amended motion ultimately prevailed, 321 to 278.
But this vote solves absolutely nothing when it comes to finding a solution to Brexit. It instead leaves the UK in pretty much the same position it’s been in for months: with a desire to exit the European Union with some sort of deal, but with no apparent majority for the compromise agreement May painstakingly negotiated with EU leaders.
Wednesday’s vote also doesn’t necessarily avert a no-deal Brexit. A no-deal Brexit is the default position of the Article 50 process, the provision of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty that the UK is using to exit the bloc. The only ways for the UK to avoid a no-deal exit are by approving an agreement with the EU or canceling Brexit altogether.
Parliament will have another chance to direct the Brexit process this week, with one more vote on Thursday this one on whether to ask the EU for a short extension to the Brexit deadline. Postponing Brexit beyond March 29 requires the approval of all 27 EU member states, and they will likely require the UK to give them a specific reason for the delay. The EU has been firm that a reason can’t be more negotiations.
May recognizes this, so she put out a very specific motion: She will ask the EU for a short extension, until June 30, if Parliament passes her Brexit deal by March 20. Yes, that’s right: There will likely be a third vote on May’s Brexit plan next week, nine days before the deadline.
This adds another twist to the Brexit saga, as May is essentially using this extension vote to try one last time to force Parliament to back her deal. Parliament has said it doesn’t want to break up with the European Union without a deal. But that’s about all it can agree on right now.
What Parliament just voted on, and what comes next
What happened in Parliament Wednesday was a bit weird even for the Brexit era. May had initially promised a vote on whether the UK wanted to reject the option of leaving the EU without a deal on March 29. This proposal was largely expected to pass.
But members of Parliament introduced an amendment that would reject a no-deal Brexit forever and always. That amendment passed narrowly, 312 to 308, and effectively replaced May’s original motion. So what did the prime minister do? Well, she decided to whip her party to vote against ruling out a no-deal exit.
This gambit failed, and Parliament ultimately rejected a no-deal Brexit by a final vote of 321-278.