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Risk of a 'No-deal Brexit' is increasing as Prime Minister Theresa May' deal suffers third defeat | Coastweek

LONDON (Xinhua) -- Pro-Brexit demonstrators protest outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, on March 29, 2019. British lawmakers on Friday voted to reject Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal, which has already been rejected twice in Parliament since January. XINHUA PHOTO - HAN YAN

Risk of a 'No-deal Brexit' is increasing as Prime
Minister Theresa May' deal suffers third defeat

by Xinhua writers Gu Zhenqiu, Gui Tao LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- British lawmakers on Friday voted to reject Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal, dealing a third blow since January to the Withdrawal Agreement, which sets out the terms of Britain’s departure from the European Union (EU).

MPs voted 286 to 344 to turn down the Brexit deal. Britain now is facing a real possibility of no-deal Brexit on April 12 unless the prime minister can win a new agreement from Brussels, where EU leaders are set to meet in a summit on April 10.

One more vote, one more defeat. Chaos and uncertainty remain in the country.

The prime minister’s third defeat came despite her offer to step down if her deal passed.

May’s resignation offer did not win enough support for her deal, although the margins were getting smaller in each of the three votes over the past three months.

The Withdrawal Agreement, reached between London and Brussels in November 2018 after long painful negotiations, was rejected in the House of Commons by a record 230 votes in January and by 149 earlier this month. Friday’s majority was 58.

A string of Brexit-backing Conservative backbenchers who had voted against May’s deal in the previous two meaningful votes switched sides during parliamentary debates to support the agreement after the prime minister agreed to resign.

However, the opposition Labour Party is still unwilling to shift its political stance over the deal, and the 10 MPs from the Democratic Unionist Party are determined vote it down, just like what it did in the first two votes. From Northern Ireland, the DUP props up May’s minority government.

Therefore, it was not enough to secure a majority for the prime minister, who has been waging an uphill fight to save her Brexit deal.

After the Friday vote, the prime minister said in the House of Commons that "The implications of the House’s decision are grave. I fear we are reaching the limits of this process in this House."

Meanwhile, she vowed to press ahead for "the orderly Brexit that the result of the referendum demands."

In response, Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, directly called on the prime minister to step down and trigger a general election.

The opposition leader’s remarks in the parliament were echoed by MPs from other parties.

Given the latest vote outcome, observers here said that the prospects for a no-deal Brexit is real although the parliament already voted to reject a hard Brexit.

The prime minister warned that time is not enough to win a new agreement from Brussels with only 14 days to go until the new Brexit day, and the parliament has to decide whether Britain will take part in the European Parliament elections in May, scheduled for May 23-26.

The original Brexit day of March 29 was intended to avoid the British participation in the coming elections.

Any new Brexit date requires unanimous approval from 27 EU countries.

The European Commission, which said the latest parliamentary rejection is regretful, also said that a no-deal Brexit on April 12 was "now a likely scenario."

The prime minister’s third defeat came on the day when the United Kingdom was meant to be leaving the EU, the largest trading bloc in the world.

Instead, the original Brexit day turned to be a day of protest, anger and blame as thousands of pro-Brexit British people gathered hours before the vote in a square near the parliament in order to have their voices heard.

MPs on Wednesday voted to change original Brexit departure day of March 29 in law to April 12 or May 22.

Nigel Farage, a broadcaster and leader of the Brexit Party, said at the rally that "history will mark (today) as the day of great betrayal."

The Friday vote does not mark the end of efforts and tests.

MPs are due to hold another series of "indicative votes" on Monday in order to find a majority in the parliament to break the current Brexit deadlock.

At the same time, the Friday vote dramatically increases the chances of a long delay to Britain’s EU divorce.

The prime minister has earlier openly opposed any longer Brexit postponement, saying she would like only seek "short and technical" extension of the Brexit process.
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EARLIER REPORTS:

Brexit in chaos on day UK should have left European Union

LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans were thrown into chaos Friday when MPs rejected her EU withdrawal deal for a third time.

MPs voted 344 to 286 against May’s deal. According to the prime minister, the implications of their decision were grave.

Facing calls for a snap general election, May now has until April 12 to inform the EU about alternative arrangements for Brexit, or leave the Union on that date with no deal.

But she also faced a call from one of her own MPs to quit Downing Street to make way for a new prime minister.

Steve Baker, deputy chairman of the pro-Brexit European Research Group (ERG) of Conservative backbench MPs, said in a statement:

"This must be the final defeat for Theresa May’s deal. It’s finished.

"And we must move on."

Baker added: "I regret to say it is time for Theresa May to follow through on her words and make way so that a new leader can deliver a withdrawal agreement which will be passed by Parliament.

"This has been a tragic waste of time and energy for the country.

"We can waste no more."

In a grim warning to MPs ahead of the vote, May said there was a risk of Brexit being wrecked.

May went into a specially called Friday sitting of the House of Commons knowing that her controversial deal had been rejected twice already by margins of 230 and 149.

Her hopes that she might prove true the old adage—third time lucky—was given a boost on Wednesday when MPs rejected eight alternative Brexit options.

But the political mountain proved too high for May, and in the third vote she lost by 344 to 286.

The margin had been narrowed to 58, still too far out of reach.

Around 34 of May’s own Conservatives voted against her deal, while five Labour MPs voted in favor of her deal.

The 10 Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MPs, who give May’s Conservative government its majority, all voted against her deal.

Had the DUP changed its mind, May could just about have scrambled over the line.

But the long-standing fears over Northern Ireland being trapped in an EU ‘backstop’ over the border issue with the Irish Republic proved a massive stumbling block.

Despite written guarantees the fear remained that Northern Ireland could be locked into EU rules indefinitely if the ‘backstop’ arrangement came into play.

The fear of that arrangement breaking up the United Kingdom remained big among politicians on both sides of the Irish Sea.

Speaking after the vote, May said: "The implications of the decision are grave.

The legal default now is that the UK is due to leave the EU on April 12, in just 14 days’ time.

"This is not enough time to agree, legislate for and ratify a deal, and yet the House has been clear it will not permit leaving without a deal.

"And so we will have to agree an alternative way forward."

The prime minister said it was almost certain that Britain would have to take part in the European Parliament elections in May.

She said that next Monday, the House of Commons will continue the process to see if there is a stable majority for a particular alternative scenario for Britain’s future relationship with the EU.

"This government will continue to press the case for the orderly Brexit that the result of the referendum demands," said May.

Some political commentators interpreted May’s comments as a signal that she may opt for a general election.

After Speaker John Bercow announced the result of the vote, Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, and Ian Blackford, leader at Westminster of the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP), both said that May should now call a general election.

Blackford also called for Article 50 -- the process that triggered the countdown to Britain’s withdrawal from the EU—to be revoked. That would mean scrapping Britain’s departure altogether.

Vince Cable, leader of the minority Liberal Democrats, called for a second public referendum on EU membership.

In Brussels, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, announced he had called for an emergency European Council summit on April 10.
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European Union says "fully prepared" for no-deal Brexit

BRUSSELS Belgium (Xinhua) -- In wake of Friday’s defeat of the Brexit deal in the British House of Commons, the European Commission said the European Union is now fully prepared for a "no-deal" Brexit.

British lawmakers earlier in the day voted to reject Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal, which has already been rejected twice in Parliament since January. May said after the vote that the implications of the outcome are "grave".

In Brussels, the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, said it regrets the negative vote in the House of Commons and now the default Brexit date is April 12.

"It will be for the UK to indicate the way forward before that date, for consideration by the European Council," it said in a statement.

"A ‘no-deal’ scenario on 12 April is now a likely scenario.

"The EU has been preparing for this since December 2017 and is now fully prepared for a "no-deal" scenario at midnight on 12 April," it said.

"The EU will remain united.

"The benefits of the Withdrawal Agreement, including a transition period, will in no circumstances be replicated in a ‘no-deal’ scenario. Sectoral mini-deals are not an option."

"In view of the rejection of the Withdrawal Agreement by the House of Commons, I have decided to call a European Council on 10 April," Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, wrote on Twitter.

             

 

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