Brexit in chaos as parliament rejects divorce deal once again

MPs will now vote on whether to exit the EU without an accord

British lawmakers on Tuesday evening rejected PM Theresa May’s deal to quit the EU, throwing Brexit into turmoil just 17 days before the planned departure date, news wires reported. MPs voted against the amended deal by 391 to 242 and May's last-minute talks with EU leaders on Monday effectively proved fruitless.

The vote puts Britain in uncharted territory with no obvious way forward. Lawmakers will now vote on Wednesday on whether Britain should quit the EU without a deal, a scenario that may bring chaos to markets and supply chains. May might even try a third time to get parliamentary support in the hope that hardline eurosceptic lawmakers in her Conservative Party might change their minds if it becomes more likely that Britain might stay in the EU after all.

May said the government would not instruct her own party’s lawmakers how to vote. An opposition Labour Party spokesman said this meant she had “given up any pretence of leading the country”. The PM told lawmakers: “Let me be clear. Voting against leaving without a deal and for an extension does not solve the problems we face.”

Supporters of Brexit argue that, while a “no-deal” divorce might bring some short-term instability, in the longer term it would allow the United Kingdom to thrive and forge beneficial trade deals across the world. However, parliament is expected firmly to reject a “no-deal” Brexit as well, so lawmakers would then vote again on Thursday - on whether government should request a delay to the leaving date to allow further talks.

Both May and the EU have already ruled out any other changes to the deal, struck after two-and-a-half years of tortuous negotiations.  “There will be no third chance,” Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Monday. “There will be no further interpretations of the interpretations, no further assurances of the reassurances if the ‘meaningful vote’ tomorrow fails.”

More on this subject: Brexit

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