British MPs vote to seek extension for Brexit

World       by Haider Ali | Published

World by Haider Ali | Published

After three dramatic days in Parliament this week, lawmakers voted on Thursday to have the government ask the European Union for a delay beyond the date Britain is scheduled to leave - March 29. The main government motion (on a free vote for their MPs) was passed with 413 votes in favour and 202 opposed.

The party's leadership is facing near hour-by-hour questions on what the party's position is on Europe following a chaotic week at Westminster, which has seen Prime Minister Theresa May humiliated with the sight of her withdrawal deal being rejected by MPs again and open warfare breaking out among Conservative MPs with contrasting ambitions for Brexit.

Power to approve or reject the extension lies with the European Union, whose officials have said they will only allow a delay if Britain either approves a divorce deal or makes a fundamental shift in its approach to Brexit. A decision by Brussels to grant an extension would be made at the European Union summit on Thursday March 21.

Mrs May will put her deal to another vote if the circumstances are right, her spokesman said.

EU leaders meeting next Thursday will consider pressing Britain to delay Brexit by at least a year, European Council President Donald Tusk said.

Thursday could have been worse for May.

But there was some good news for May, as lawmakers rejected an attempt to strip her of control over Brexit.

Second, they will vote on a powerful cross-party bid to seize control of the Brexit process from next week.

MPs have proposed changes to that including one, amendment H, which says a delay should be used to hold a second referendum. May's deal was not approved then a long extension was on the cards.

An MP from the borough has stepped down from her post as a junior shadow minister after voting against an amendment on a second Brexit referendum.

"The remain majority in Parliament does not reflect the will or the vote of the people", she wrote on her website.

Despite the rebuffs and the political chaos that have weakened her authority, May has signaled she will try a third time to get backing for her agreement next week.

She is seeking to win over opponents in her own party and its Northern Irish political ally, the Democratic Unionist Party.

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Still, she faces a struggle to overturn the huge defeats for the agreement, which was rejected by 230 votes in Parliament in January and by 149 votes this week.

Charles Walker, a senior Tory backbencher, has said May will have to hold one.

If the delay is approved next week, May hopes to use it to enact legislation needed for Britain's departure.

Quitting the EU after 46 years on March 29 remains the legal default unless EU leaders unanimously grant Britain an extension, with the issue likely to dominate a March 21-22 EU summit in Brussels.

In a move that will incense campaigners for another Brexit vote as well as the vast majority of Labour's activists, Mr Corbyn believes demanding a chance to go back to the public can only work once the withdrawal agreement is passed.

Ms Fovargue has repeatedly stated her opposition to a so-called People's Vote as a way of settling the issue of Brexit and represents a Leave-voting heartland.

After all, the longer the delay, the more opportunity anti-Brexit lawmakers will have to reverse the referendum result; delay with no end date could potentially mean no Brexit in the end.

However Brexit comes about, opponents of the divorce worry that it will divide the West as it grapples with the USA presidency of Donald Trump and growing assertiveness from Russian Federation and China. Simon Coveney, Ireland's deputy prime minister, said a long extension would give the United Kingdom a "reflection period" about what it wants.

British businesses expressed relief at the prospect of a delay.

"We will not be supporting H tonight", Starmer told the House of Commons.

"But without a radically new approach, business fears this is simply a stay of execution".

Associated Press writers Gregory Katz in London and Raf Casert in Brussels contributed.

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