UK MPs vote by majority to delay Brexit

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 15, 2019 10:41 hrs
Brexit

London: UK MPs have voted in favour of delaying the Brexit process by at least three months, acknowledging that more time was needed to break the deadlock over Britain's departure from the European Union (EU), although a call for a second referendum was decisively rejected.

On Thursday night, the MPs voted 412 votes to 202 to approve of Prime Minister Theresa May's plan to delay Brexit, after the House of Commons earlier this week overwhelmingly rejected her withdrawal agreement by a large margin, for a second time, and then voted to reject a no-deal Brexit, CNN reported.

The votes were the last in a series of vital parliamentary decisions on Brexit over several days, mean that Britain's departure from the EU should not now take place before June 30 and gave May a window to resuscitate her plan.

May will now ask European leaders to grant an extension to Article 50, the mechanism taking the UK out of the EU on March 29.

Unless a delay is approved by all 27 remaining EU leaders, Britain is heading for a chaotic exit on March 29.

The MPs, earlier on Thursday, rejected an attempt to secure another Brexit referendum by 334 votes to 85, the BBC said.

They also rejected a cross-party plan to allow MPs to take control of the Brexit process to hold a series of votes on the next steps, by the narrow margin of two votes.

Meanwhile, most MPs from the ruling Conservative Party voted against delaying Brexit - including seven cabinet members - meaning May had to rely on Labour and other opposition votes to get it through.

But some opposition Labour frontbenchers resigned to defy party orders to abstain on a vote on holding another referendum.

Shadow housing minister Yvonne Fovargue, shadow education minister Emma Lewell-Buck, shadow business minister Justin Madders, Ruth Smeeth, a shadow ministerial aide, and Labour whip Stephanie Peacock, all resigned to oppose one.

Meanwhile May, who has long insisted that the UK will leave the EU on March 29 with or without a withdrawal deal, also voted to delay Brexit.

Downing Street said the government was still preparing for a no-deal Brexit.

May is planning to hold another "meaningful vote" on her withdrawal deal by March 20.

If she wins that vote, she will ask for a one-off extension to Brexit get the necessary legislation through Parliament at an EU summit on March 21 - if not she could ask for a longer extension.

In response to Thursday night's vote, a spokesman for the European Commission said extending Article 50, would need the "unanimous agreement" of 27 EU member states.

And it would be for the leaders of those states "to consider such a request, giving priority to the need to ensure the functioning of the EU institutions and taking into account the reasons for and duration of a possible extension".

European Council President Donald Tusk said that he would appeal to the EU leaders "to be open to a long extension if the UK finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus around it".

--IANS

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