Government to seek Brexit delay as MPs reject second referendum | Politics News
MPs have voted to ask the EU for a delay to Brexit until at least the end of June, as Theresa May gears up for a third vote on her deal.
On another day of high drama in Westminster, the government bought itself yet more time to try and find a way out of the impasse.
It narrowly avoiding losing control of the Brexit process, as a cross-party bid to allow Parliament to decide what to do next was defeated by just two votes.
But almost three years on from the 2016 referendum, how the endgame of Brexit will play out still remains unclear.
Britain had been due to leave the EU on 29 March, but a motion acknowledging that this will now not happen has been passed by MPs.
It proposes a one-off delay to Brexit to 30 June in the event that the prime minister manages to get her deal passed ahead of an EU summit next week.
This extension would give the government the necessary time to sort out the required legislation in order to leave in an orderly fashion.
But the motion also warns that if Mrs May makes it an unwelcome hat-trick of parliamentary defeats on her deal, any extension would have to be longer and would involve the UK participating in May’s European Parliament elections.
The PM will have to now formally request an extension from the EU, with the bloc having the final say on whether a delay is approved.
The deadlock has prompted calls for the Commons to be given a say on the way forward, with a number of amendments to this effect tabled ahead of Thursday’s vote.
In a bid to placate MPs, Cabinet Office minister David Lidington said that if Mrs May is defeated once more next week, the government will hold two weeks of debate allowing the Commons a chance to establish a majority around an alternative Brexit strategy.
But an amendment from Labour’s Hilary Benn seeking to put MPs in control was agonisingly close to passing, going down by 314 votes to 312.
As well as approving a delay to Brexit, MPs also overwhelmingly rejected an amendment from Independent Group MP Sarah Wollaston calling for a second referendum.
Labour abstained, while both campaigns in favour of a so-called “people’s vote” also argued it was not the right time for MPs to push for a fresh public vote.