British parliament rejects no-deal Brexit

MPs will now vote on a motion allowing the divorce with the EU to be delayed

British MPs voted late on Wednesday to reject leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement. The decision only means that now another vote is needed - on delaying Brexit. That vote would take place on Thursday, and if it is passed - and the EU agrees to it - the UK will not leave the EU as planned on 29 March.

Lawmakers voted on a motion that ruled out a potentially disorderly ‘no-deal’ Brexit under any circumstances. It went further than the government’s own planned motion, which noted that parliament did not want to leave without a deal on 29 March.

After two-and-a-half years of negotiations and two failed attempts to pass a Brexit deal proposed by May, the vote against a no-deal exit still leaves undecided how, when and on what terms Britain will leave the club it joined in 1973.

With the UK digging deeper into Brexit, analysts still see four main options: a delay, May’s deal passing at the last minute, an accidental no-deal exit or another referendum. But if Britain does seek a delay, it will require the agreement of all the bloc’s other 27 members.

So far the EU is inclined to accept only a short extension, with the deadline of EU-wide parliamentary elections due May 24-26, although it is unclear that this would be long enough to solve the impasse in London. EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said the bloc would need to know why Britain wanted to extend talks and that it was up to London to find a way out of the deadlock. The EU said there could be no more negotiations on the divorce terms.

More on this subject: Brexit

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