UK moves towards Brexit delay as MPs vote to rule out a no-deal exit
Graphic: The Local.
The House of Commons twice rejected a no-deal in different votes on Wednesday, but PM Theresa May warned that a no-deal exit remains the default legal option and gave MPs a final ultimatum to back her much-maligned deal or face a lengthy delay to Brexit.
The sinuous logic of the Brexit process continued to manifest itself in the UK parliament on March 13th as British MPs voted to reject leaving the EU without a deal by 43 MPs. The motion does not however guarantee that anybody can say goodbye to a no-deal.
"The legal default in UK and EU law remains that the UK will leave the EU without a deal unless something else is agreed. The onus on everybody in this house is to find out what that is," said British Prime Minister Theresa May in reaction to the defeat.
The options are the same, added PM May: vote for her deal, hold a second referendum (which would "damage the fragile trust between the British public and this house" or negotiate a new deal, which she acknowledges the EU is reluctant to do. She has lost her voice and again sounds like she swallowed all 500+ pages of her deal.
May signalled that she would put her deal – already defeated in two previous votes – before the House of Commons for a third time next week, in the hope that Conservative rebels and her DUP allies will finally get behind it given the threat of a lengthy delay to Brexit.
If MPs did back her deal then she would seek a short extension of Article 50 until June, May hinted.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as other EU leaders have hinted that the EU could approve an extension. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the EU Commission, has said he would prefer that an extension end before the May 23rd European parliamentary elections.
A debate and vote on whether the UK should now seek an extension will be held on Thursday March 14th.
The motion set next Wednesday March 20th as a deadline to vote on the current deal. The final scheduled EU summit before the UK's currently-scheduled departure from the EU (March 29th) is on March 21st-22nd.
UK MPs may have rejected a no-deal exit, but European leaders and EU officials are upping their preparations for such a scenario.
"We, the Spanish people, are ready for any scenario, with or without a deal," Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez wrote in an editorial in the Madrid-based daily El Pais.
In his sanguine editorial, PM Sanchez added: "It is impossible to understand Brexit without taking into account the conjunction of three factors. A nationalism that advocates the withdrawal from the exaltation of myths and false nostalgia, the advance of the extreme right and the simplification of democracy around the figure of the referendum as a tool from which to offer simple answers to complex problems.
El Parlamento británico ha rechazado el Acuerdo de Retirada.
En un día como el de hoy, lo importante es que España ha hecho su tarea. Los españoles estamos preparados para cualquier escenario, con acuerdo o sin acuerdo.
Comparto mi reflexión en @el_pais https://t.co/DaRYjqIdih
— Pedro Sánchez (@sanchezcastejon) March 12, 2019
British in Italy, part of the British in Europe coalition, summed up the feeling among 1.2 million frustrated UK nationals living in Europe who fear losing key rights related to healthcare, residency, work, the right to remain and to move.
"An unresolved Gordian Brexit knot"; "uncertainty still remains" – "this domestic politics mess is unparalleled". To catch up on all the reactions from Europe tonight and from last night, have a browse through our live blogs from the last two days.
READ ALSO: RECAP: UK parliament votes to reject a no-deal Brexit under any circumstances
READ ALSO: RECAP: 'We've taken a step further into uncertainty on our rights': UK nationals in EU react to May's defeat
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