British lawmakers on Friday rejected the Brexit deal proposed by embattled Prime Minister Theresa May in Parliament for the third time, throwing the UK’s divorce plans with the EU into further chaos.
MPs voted in the House of Commons against the terms of Britain’s so-called divorce from the European Union (EU) by 344 to 286.
Approval to the deal, struck between May and the EU, would have given the British parliament time until May 22 to get all the accompanying legislation passed.
The key vote took place on the day Britain was earlier scheduled to exit the bloc, until the EU leaders granted more time.
The EU had given May until April 12 to propose a different way forward if her divorce bill does not clear the UK Parliament hurdle.
As the MPs rejected 62-year-old May’s deal again, she must set out a new plan by April 12.
Commenting on the outcome, May told MPs: “The implications of the house’s decision are grave. I fear we are reaching the limits of this process in this house. This government will continue to press for the orderly Brexit that the result of the referendum demands”.
“The legal default now is that the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on 12 April in just 14 days’ time. This is not enough time to agree, legislate for and ratify a deal, and yet the House has been clear it will not permit leaving without a deal. And so we will have to agree to an alternative way forward,” she said.
May said that MPs would debate alternatives next week.
Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “It is clear that this House does not support the deal. This deal now has to change. There has to be an alternative found”.
“And if the prime minister can’t accept that then she must go, not at an indeterminate date in the future but now,” he said.
The margin of 58 votes in the rejection of the government’s Brexit deal is narrower than the two previous times. Earlier this month, the prime minister’s deal was rejected by a margin of 149 votes. In January, the margin was a whopping 230 votes.
Many believe that Prime Minister May, already under pressure from her Conservative party, will face more heat to step down and let a new party leader negotiate with the 28-member bloc.
Meanwhile responding to the vote outcome, European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted: “In view of the rejection of the Withdrawal Agreement by the House of Commons, I have decided to call a European Council on 10 April.”
In the past, the House of Commons rejected May’s withdrawal plan twice, both times by overwhelming margins.
May on Wednesday bowed to mounting pressure from within her own Conservative Party and offered to resign as the UK Prime Minister if her MPs agreed to back her twice-defeated Brexit divorce bill to get it over the line in a third parliamentary vote.
Hours before the vote, London Mayor Sadiq Khan called on lawmakers to reject May’s Brexit plan with the EU and negotiate a new one with better terms.
The UK triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty following a referendum in favour of Brexit by nearly 52 per cent to 48 per cent in June 2016.