MPs to vote on Brexit delay as PM warns of ‘lengthy’ extension to Article 50 | Politics News
MPs will vote on whether to delay Brexit as Theresa May warned of a “lengthy” postponement to the UK’s departure from the EU.
The prime minister suffered fresh humiliation in the House of Commons on Wednesday night – accompanied by a ministerial resignation – as MPs voted to rule out a no-deal Brexit in all circumstances.
In a 321-278 vote, MPs rejected leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement.
Although a non-binding vote, the result comes as a fresh blow for Mrs May, who had only supported the rejection of a no-deal Brexit on 29 March.
MPs spurned her proposition by instead backing the ruling out of no-deal completely.
After the result, the prime minister confirmed she will now allow MPs a vote on whether to extend the Article 50 negotiating period to delay Brexit beyond 29 March.
A motion to be put forward by the prime minister on Thursday will propose delaying Brexit until 30 June.
Mrs May told the Commons, if it finds a way to support a Brexit deal in the “coming days”, the government could seek a “short limited technical extension” to Article 50 in order to allow the ratification of a withdrawal agreement.
However, she warned: “Let me be clear such a short technical extension is only likely to be on offer if we have a deal in place.”
The prime minister added a “much longer extension” could occur if MPs continue to reject a withdrawal agreement, which would “undoubtedly” require the UK to hold elections to the European Parliament in May.
“I do not think that would be the right outcome,” she said.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told MPs a delay to Brexit is now “inevitable”, adding: “Parliament must now take control of the situation.”
Another dramatic night in the Commons on Wednesday also saw the comfortable defeat of a plan for a managed no-deal Brexit by Conservative backbenchers.
Earlier, Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who opened Wednesday’s debate on no-deal Brexit, did not rule out the government returning to the Commons with the prime minister’s Brexit deal for a third time.
This is despite two large defeats for Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement within three months.
Tory Brexiteer Mark Francois later predicted this would be held on 26 March.
However, Mr Gove also raised the prospect of a series of “indicative” votes being held by MPs this week on various Brexit outcomes.
Ahead of Thursday’s vote on extending Article 50, Conservative eurosceptics launched an effort to kill off a possible second EU referendum.
The European Research Group (ERG) of Tory Brexiteers have tabled a motion stating a fresh public vote “would be divisive and expensive, and therefore should not take place”.
Earlier on Wednesday, Chancellor Philip Hammond told MPs they had the chance to “start to map out a way forward towards building a consensus” when they vote on delaying Brexit.
He also urged them to “remove the threat of an imminent no-deal exit hanging over our economy”.
His remarks revealed splits within both the government and his own department, with Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss telling Sky News: “We need to keep no deal on the table otherwise we lose our negotiating leverage.”
“I prefer no deal to no Brexit,” she added.
Mrs May was told by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn her Brexit strategy is “in tatters” following the second rejection of her withdrawal agreement by MPs.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Corbyn said the 149-vote defeat had left her deal “dead”.
However, Mrs May signalled she could yet try and revive her agreement.
She said: “People want to leave the EU, they want to end free movement, they want us to have our own trade policy, and they want to ensure laws are made in this country and judged in our courts.
“That is what the deal delivers, and that is what I continue to work to deliver.”