UK lawmakers have voted 412 to 202 in favor of delaying the Brexit process, acknowledging that more time is needed to break the deadlock over Britain’s departure from the EU.
The motion instructs Prime Minister Theresa May to seek an extension to Article 50, the legal process under which Britain is leaving the European Union. Any delay beyond March 29 would require unanimous approval from the remaining 27 EU member states.
The Prime Minister is now likely to seek the extension at a European Council summit in Brussels next Thursday, after putting her twice-rejected divorce deal back to the House of Commons earlier in the week.
May has warned that a longer delay to Brexit will be required if her deal is rejected a third time. That would force the UK to take part in elections to the European Parliament in May.
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has promoted the idea of another referendum.
‘Her deal, and no deal, are simply no longer viable options’, said Corbyn. ‘I reiterate our support for a public vote...Our job is to try and meet the concerns of the people who sent us here in the first place’
MP Mhairi Black of the Scottish National Party slammed the PM this afternoon, saying that an extension to Article 50 was not a ‘union of equals’, and that the EU were not likely to allow an extension.
This was a blow to the campaign for a second ‘people’s vote’, and signals that MPs resist the possibility of the public making another choice.
The vote on the amendment was indicative and would not have been legally binding if it had passed. It also doesn't rule out the possibility of parliament revisiting the idea down the line.
The Labour party’s Sir Keir Starmer commented that his party would not back the call for a second referendum, saying ‘today is about a different issue.’
In the second vote of today, lawmakers narrowly dismissed the idea of an amendment which would allow MPs to take control of the negotiations from May.
This is good news for the Prime Minister, whose reputation would have been affected by a vote to withdraw her power.
Next week, she will head to Brussels to continue negotiations with the EU just 15 days before the scheduled date of departure.
Parliament’s third decision was whether to delay Brexit in order to find an alternative approach, proposed by opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn 'to provide parliamentary time for this House to find a majority for a different approach.' This was rejected.
US President Donald Trump commented on the situation today during a press conference with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in the Oval Office, saying that the chaos is 'tearing a country apart, it's actually tearing a lot of countries apart... it's a shame that it has to be that way".
'We can do a very big trade deal with the UK," he said, adding that the US was re-negotiating its trade deal with the EU.
'If they don’t talk to us we’re going to do something that’s going to be pretty severe economically,' he warned. 'We’re going to tariff a lot of their products coming - because the EU treats us very unfairly.'
Trump added: 'It will probably work out, they’re negotiating. Otherwise we’re going to do something that’s pretty good for the United States.'