The British House of Commons voted on a proposal on Wednesday evening ruling out Britain’s exit from the European Union without an agreement with the European Union. But first there was a vote on some proposed amendments to that proposal. The amendment that excludes Brexit from the European Union “without a deal” surprisingly received a very narrow majority of 312 votes to 308.
The fact that this amendment, bypassing the actual government proposal, made it another painful defeat for Prime Minister Theresa May. Specifically, it was assumed that only the original proposal, made by members of the Conservative Party, would eventually be approved. That proposal, which also garnered a (much larger) majority behind him after half an hour, although it also rejected Brexit without a deal, went much less.
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And now what?
Despite the ruling of British lawmakers, Brexit “without agreement” remains an option: the approved proposal and the attached amendment are not legally binding. In May’s words after the vote: “This does not change the fundamental problem: if the esteemed MPs do not want to leave the European Union without an agreement, they must agree to a deal.”
If the May government and the European Union do not have an approved alternative by March 29, Britain will still leave the European Union without an agreement. However, this vote is a strong signal from MPs through May.
Postponement until June 30
If the British Parliament approves a Brexit deal with the European Union by Wednesday 20 March, Prime Minister Theresa May will ask other European member states to delay Brexit until June 30. This is evident from the transcript of Wednesday that May will put to the vote in the British Parliament on Thursday.
The text suggests that if the already rejected agreement remained a dead letter even after March 20, it is very likely that there would be a longer delay. “An extension (Article 50 procedure, edited) after 30 June means that the UK should participate in the elections for the European Parliament in May 2019,” he stated.