Published: Fri, March 15, 2019
Economy | By

British MPs overwhelmingly support Brexit delay, vote against second referendum

British MPs overwhelmingly support Brexit delay, vote against second referendum

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.

As a result, the government found itself whipping Tory MPs to vote against its own motion - with Prime Minister Theresa May seen voting against it and for leaving with No Deal - but to no success, the amended motion passing a comfortable 321 to 278.

If the deal is not passed by then, the United Kingdom would need a longer extension, with reports that the United Kingdom is making contingency plans for European Parliament elections.

Any delay in the Brexit process would require the unanimous approval of all 27 remaining European Union member states.

In another sting for the beleaguered May, US President Donald Trump said he was "surprised at how badly" the Brexit negotiations have been handled.

EU leaders meeting next Thursday will consider pressing Britain to delay Brexit by at least a year, European Council President Donald Tusk said. The U.K. won't be represented in the European Parliament after it quits the EU; its seats already have been given to other countries to fill in the elections.

While Britain is likely to get the bloc's approval for a delay if it asks for one, Brussels has repeatedly stressed it will need to provide a good reason for doing so. European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted Thursday he will appeal to EU leaders "to be open to a long extension if the United Kingdom finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus about it".

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Such an extension, however, would require Britain to elect members of the European Parliament when all member states hold votes on May 23-26, further complicating matters.

Trading on Thursday, however, remained relatively calm, the report added.

"I will appeal to the EU27 to be open to a long extension if the United Kingdom finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus around it", European Council President Donald Tusk said on Twitter.

Her Conservative government is holding talks with its Northern Irish political allies and pro-Brexit backbench lawmakers to see if they will abandon opposition to the deal.

"It's still really hard to see how the numbers stack up for Theresa May, but she's giving it one more go", he said.

Only 85 MPs voted in favour of the amendment and 334 voted against, with most lawmakers from the main opposition Labour Party abstaining from the vote.

However, the political calculus could change if the paralysis drags on. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said after Thursday's votes that a new Brexit referendum might offer a realistic way to break the deadlock.


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