British lawmakers vote for indicative votes on Brexit

Leroy Wright
March 26, 2019

"It is with great regret that I have had to conclude that as things stand, there is still not sufficient support in the House to bring back the deal for a third meaningful vote", Ms May earlier told the House of Commons.

May's deal still struggles: Prime Minister May wants to put her deal, which had already been defeated twice, before the parliament for the third vote this week.

Mr Letwin, a Tory Remainer, said "The goal of this cross-party amendment is to enable the House of Commons to debate and vote on alternative ways forward if the PM's Brexit deal is not approved by Wednesday".

They hope these "indicative votes" on options that include a new voter referendum on European Union membership and a "soft Brexit" that maintains close economic ties to the bloc can find majority support.

"The amendment. upends the balance between our democratic institutions and sets a risky, unpredictable precedent for the future", the Brexit department spokesman said.

The government is seeking to block efforts by parliament to wrest control of the process later on Monday by holding a series of votes to indicate how they would like the process to run.

"A slow Brexit - which extends Article 50 beyond May 22, forces the British people to take part in European elections and gives up control of any of our borders, laws, money or trade - is not a Brexit that will bring the British people together".

British Prime Minister Theresa May reacts after tellers announced the results of the vote Brexit deal in Parliament in London, Britain, March 12, 2019, in this screen grab taken from video. Under Conservative Party rules, May can not face a formal leadership challenge from within her own party until December because she survived one three months ago. She hopes to persuade reluctant pro-Brexit lawmakers that backing her deal is their only hope of leaving soon and in an orderly fashion, and to convince pro-EU legislators that they must choose between her deal and a chaotic no-deal Brexit.

MPs backed Mr Letwin's proposal by 329 votes to 302, and were nearly certain to confirm their decision in the final vote of the evening on the overall "motion as amended". The agreement faced criticism both from the Labour opposition and the ruling Conservative Party, with several members of May's cabinet resigning over disagreements with the deal.

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The European Commission said Monday that it had finished planning for a no-deal Brexit, which could occur on April 12.

UPDATE, 10 p.m. - As voting on the amendments get underway, Remain-supporting business minister Richard Harrington - who openly dared the Prime Minister to sack him if she meant to deliver a No Deal Brexit - has resigned, likely in order to vote against the Government.

To hold a vote on May's deal on Tuesday, the government must present an emergency business motion by the close of business on Monday. This a process often referred to as "indicative votes".

Under a new timetable imposed by European leaders last week, she now has until April 12 to win MPs' backing for the agreement or find a viable alternative which could include a lengthy extension to Brexit.

"This House must also consider whether any deal should be put to the people for a confirmatory vote", he told parliament after the votes.

However, effectively the Brexit date has already changed under global law with the European Union legislation delaying the deadline last week.

On Monday, May gave up mid-way through her third attempt to push a Brexit deal through, leaving the United Kingdom staring down the barrel of a no-deal Brexit, a situation Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called a "national embarrassment".

May has come under intense pressure to quit the prime minister's post as the price of winning support for the deal.

David Lidlington, effectively the deputy prime minister, is mentioned as a temporary possible successor to May, while senior party leader and former cabinet minister Iain Duncan-Smith said aides briefing against May should be dismissed for being disloyal.

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