British MPs reject no-deal Brexit
The UK Parliament has voted to avoid crashing out of the European Union without a negotiated deal, 321 votes for to 278 against.
It follows an amendment of the Government’s motion that toughened the stance of Parliament to avoid a no-deal Brexit under any circumstances.
However, the approved motion is not legally binding, and Parliament will still need to pass legislation to avoid leaving the EU without a deal on the Brexit deadline day of March 29.
The vote comes a day after MPs rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed divorce agreement with the EU for the second time.
MPs will now vote tomorrow on whether to delay Brexit until June 30, leaving open the prospect of a third meaningful vote on Mrs May’s deal.
“The house has provided a clear majority against leaving without a deal,” Mrs May said after the vote.
“However, I will repeat what I have said before: these are about the choices this House faces.
“The legal default in UK and EU law remains that the UK will leave the European Union without a deal unless something else is agreed.
“The onus is now on every one of us in this House is to find out what this is.
“The options before us are the same as they have been — we could leave with a deal that this Government has negotiated over the past two years.
“We could leave with a deal that we’ve negotiated but subject to a second referendum — but that would risk no Brexit at all, damaging the fragile trust between the British public and the members of this House.
“We could seek to negotiate a different deal, however the EU has been clear that the deal on the table is indeed the only deal available.”
If the vote to delay Brexit passes, Mrs May must go back to the EU and seek approval for an extension to be granted by all 27 member states for an as-yet unspecified period.
If a deadline extension does not pass the Parliament, it was expected Mrs May would try and revive her deal, although the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has maintained there will be no further renegotiations.
If her deal again fails to pass, the UK would revert to crashing out without a deal at 11:00pm GMT on March 29.
A no-deal Brexit would mean the UK and EU have no formal trade or customs deals in place, potentially causing huge backlogs at ports and borders and leading to shortages in food and medicines.
While some hardliner pro-Brexit MPs have been touting a no-deal scenario as the best option for Brexit, the majority of MPs voted against it.
Outside the Palace of Westminster, no-deal supporters were hoping the predictions of Wednesday’s (local time) vote would prove wrong.
“I think our only option now, because I think we should still leave on the 29th of March, is to go with the no-deal option,” said Michelle Megan, insisting Mrs May’s current deal is a dud.
“We could be in a limbo for years with that kind of a deal, and I think it’s worse than actually being a member of the EU.”
Tony Blighe travelled two-and-a-half hours from Wiltshire to voice his support for a no-deal Brexit.
“[Theresa May’s] deal is a bad deal, so the only logical way forward is to leave with no deal,” the retired IT specialist said.
Mr Blighe said an extension of the Brexit deadline would mean more uncertainty for business and the nation in general.
“Businesses can cope with change, but in an uncertain environment they will put off decisions, they will put off building a new factory, they’ll put off investing in machinery, they’ll put off employing people because they don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said.
“That would be a horribly bad situation, and I’d have to spend two days a week up here waving a banner, which I really don’t want to do.”
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) contributed to this report.
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