UK MPs reject chaotic 'no-deal' Brexit, back May's bid to reopen deal

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 30, 2019 08:41 hrs
Theresa May (AP photo)

London: British MPs voted to reject a chaotic 'no-deal' Brexit by 318 to 310 votes but backed British Prime Minister Theresa May's bid to change the withdrawal agreement already struck with the European Union.

Conservative Party MP Caroline Spelman and Labour MP Jack Dromey had tabled an amendment to try to prevent a crash-out exit of the UK from the EU, which won the support of MPs by eight votes, undermining the government's argument that Britain would be willing to crash out of the EU without an agreement.

However, the vote is not legally binding - meaning it showed the view of the House of Commons but does nothing to change the Brexit date of March 29.

Soon after, MPs also voted in favour of an amendment backed by the government to seek "alternative arrangements" to the controversial Irish backstop, which seeks to avert a hard border between Britain and Ireland after Brexit.

May had said she was backing the amendment to re-open negotiations in Brussels with an "emphatic message" of what British MPs want.

The amendment tabled by Tory MP Graham Brady passed by 317 votes to 301 - a majority of 16, which effectively calls on May to renegotiate her Brexit deal with the EU and find an alternative to the controversial Irish backstop.

"We will now take this mandate forward and seek to obtain legally binding changes to the Withdrawal Agreement that deal with concerns on the backstop while guaranteeing no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. My colleagues and I will talk to the EU about how we address the House's views, May said in a statement after the vote.

Britain is set to exit the EU on March 29 and there is a scramble to secure a Withdrawal Agreement that is acceptable to all sides before that deadline to avoid a chaotic no-deal crashout of the UK from the economic bloc.

Different Brexit factions have tabled amendments to Theresa May's exit plan, which she was forced to bring back to the Commons on Tuesday after MPs had overwhelmingly rejected her Brexit deal earlier this month.