Brexit deal rejected, promised two more votes for the U.K. Parliament.
The Brexit process could see yet more twists and turn this week following another defeat of Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal deal.
U.K. lawmakers rejected the deal again on Tuesday evening by 149 votes, despite some latch-minute assurances from the EU which May had achieved in Strasbourg earlier in the week.
The route forward is still extremely uncertain but May has already promised two more votes for the U.K. Parliament. On Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, lawmakers will get to vote on whether the U.K. should leave the 28-member bloc with no deal, or should request a delay to its departure — which is currently scheduled for March 29.
May confirmed that these votes would go ahead just second after her deal was overwhelmingly rejected for a second time.
The first vote on a no-deal scenario — where the U.K. crashes out of the bloc and has to rely on WTO trading rules — is highly likely to be rejected by politicians. However, it’s not concrete and there’s still a possibility the U.K. could leave without a deal, even if they vote against it.
May said after her loss Tuesday that a “no deal” remains the default unless a withdrawal agreement is ratified. Meanwhile, a spokesman for European Council President Donald Tusk said that the second rejection had “significantly increased” the risk of a damaging “no-deal” divorce, according to Reuters.
“We regret the outcome of tonight’s vote,” the spokesman said. “On the EU side, we have done all that is possible to reach an agreement … it is difficult to see what more we can do.”
“With only 17 days left to 29th March, today’s vote has significantly increased the likelihood of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit … Should there be a U.K. reasoned request for an extension, the EU27 will consider it and decide by unanimity,” he added.
Wednesday’s vote will take place at 7:00 p.m. London time and this will be a “free vote” with the government not urging its politicians to keep no deal on the table.
A vote to delay
If Wednesday’s vote is rejected, lawmakers will vote Thursday evening on whether they want an extension to Article 50 — which is the formal two-year process governing Britain’s departure from the European Union.
With only 17 days left until the Brexit deadline, it’s possible that lawmakers could back this, although pro-Brexit MPs (Members of Parliament) worry that this could lead to a second referendum or no Brexit at all.
An extension to Article 50 also opens up the possibility of another general election in the U.K. if May, perhaps understandably, grows weary of the political stalemate in Westminster.
However, the government hasn’t confirmed that it will introduce the legislation necessary to make an Article 50 extension a reality, nor has it given any details about the potential length of an extension.