MPs reject four
as the deadlock continues
Customs union with the EU
Second referendum Common Market 2.0
MPs on Monday once again failed to find a majority on any alternative Brexit plan before them, leaving Britain’s chaotic path towards leaving the EU mired in uncertainty less than two weeks before its departure date.
Brussels has set Britain an April 12 deadline to agree to the divorce terms Prime Minister Theresa May has struck with the bloc, find an alternative or crash out of the European Union.
MPs have already rejected the Brexit divorce deal three times, shredding May’s authority.
Parliament’s lower House of Commons seized the initiative last week by holding the first round of votes on eight alternative Brexit options but failed to find a majority on any of them.
Refining them down to four, backbenches voted again on Monday, hoping to find one solution that most of them could agree on.
All four failed to find a majority although the result was close for proposals to hold a second referendum and negotiate a permanent customs union with the EU.
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay hinted the government could now bring its deal back for a fourth vote this week and avoid a longer delay to Brexit that would mean holding European Parliament elections in May.
He warned that otherwise “the default legal position is the UK will leave the EU in just 11 days time” without a deal — an option that experts have warned could cause huge economic disruption on both sides of the Channel.
“Cabinet will meet in the morning to consider the results of tonight’s vote and how we should proceed,” Barclay said.
The EU has called an emergency summit for April 10 and warned that without a plan, Britain risks abruptly ending ties with its largest trading partner two days later, causing huge economic disruption.
“With our British friends we have had a lot of patience, but even patience is running out,” European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker told Italian television channel Rai 1.
Following the result, Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the European Parliament’s Brexit committee, said: “A hard Brexit becomes nearly inevitable”.
When MPs meet again on Wednesday “the UK has a last chance to break the deadlock or face the abyss,” Verhofstadt said.
European Commission president said Britain would not get any further short delays to Brexit unless its parliament ratifies the EU exit deal on April 12 at the latest. “The 12th of April is the ultimate deadline for approval of the Withdrawal Agreement by the House of Commons,”Jean-Claude Juncker told the European Parliament. “If it has not done so by then, no further short extension will be possible.” According to him, “a ‘no-deal’ at midnight on the 12th of April is now a very likely scenario,” Reuters reports. “It is not the outcome I want. But it is an outcome for which I have made sure the EU is ready,” Juncker added.