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As it happened: Theresa May's deal roundly rejected a third time

The UK had originally been due to leave the EU today – 29 March. But MPs are voting on May’s deal again instead.

LAST UPDATE | 29 Mar 2019

TODAY WAS THE day that the UK was due to leave the EU.

But now it’s not.

They were in the House of Commons to today to vote on Theresa May’s deal a third time.

After being soundly defeated on two occasions already, May lost yet again today.

We brought you all the updates from Westminster and beyond as it happened earlier this afternoon.

So… here we are again.

MPs vote on May’s deal a third time from 2.30pm.

Ironically, it comes on the day the UK was originally due to leave the EU.

So what are MPs voting on today? Essentially they’re voting on half of the prime minister’s Brexit deal. 

My colleague Rónán Duffy explains here why today’s vote is a bit different to the previous meaningful votes.

ronan explainer

Nevertheless, it’s still last-chance saloon for the Prime Minister. 

In a bid to try win over the hardline Brexiteers in her party, May has said she’ll resign once she sees Brexit through if they back her deal.

But even with the likes of Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees Mogg doing a u-turn, she’s still likely to lose today.

The DUP remain opposed to the deal, with Sammy Wilson telling the House of Commons earlier that his party’s position had not changed. 

He said May’s agreement “ties the hand of this government” and makes it impossible to “find a way of securing the kind of assurances which are required to make sure the United Kingdom is not broken up”. 

Brexit PA Wire / PA Images PA Wire / PA Images / PA Images

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has the floor now in the House.

He’s savaging Theresa May and her Brexit deal.

He says it’s “bad for democracy” and urges MPs to vote the deal down.

Corbyn adds that May has tried to beg, bully and bribe her way to get her deal through.

Brexit House of Commons House of Commons

The prime minister’s up now.

She says now is the last opportunity to deliver Brexit. She indicates that getting this deal through means that the UK can leave the EU before the end of May. 

“If we do not vote for this motion today, people will ask ‘why did you not vote for Brexit?’,” she says.

The deal we have agreed absolutely apply to 48% that voted remain because they recognise the necessary balance between delivering on the results of the referendum in a way that protects jobs, livelihoods…

So, what are the options for Brexit now?

  1. May’s deal is passed today and on Monday. It’ll mean that the UK leave the EU before the end of May.
  2. May’s deal is not passed, but the UK government seeks a longer extension to Brexit.
  3. May’s deal is not passed, and the UK leaves without a deal on 12 April.

In future, there could be a second referendum on Brexit but the UK would have to first extend Article 50 under option two. 

Nothing much new in Theresa May’s sentiments here.

“Today we can give the public and businesses the certainty they need,” she says. “Today we can show we stand by our word. Today we can show we can come together in the national interest.”

Lots and lots jeering ensues.

Speaker John Bercow rebukes those causing noise, says the Prime Minister “must be heard”. 

I spoke too soon.

That was a very combative performance from May.

She urged MPs to “put aside self and party” and said “today we can take a step forward together”. 

“That is what I have done. I have said I am prepared to leave this job earlier than intended to secure the right outcome for our country,” May says.

“And when the division bell rings in a few moments, every one of us will have to look into our hearts and decide what is best for our constituents and our country.”

There’s no downplaying how pivotal this vote is. 

It’s May’s last chance, really. It could be the UK’s last chance to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

This is also worth a watch.

The word is that her deal has lost again – nothing confirmed yet.

But there were two unlikely supporters of May’s deal.

Bear in mind, Rees Mogg previously said the deal would make the UK a “slave state”.

The government needs 318 MPs for a majority.

The Conservative party only has 311, so even if they all voted for it, they’d need more.

The result will come in any second…

The ayes to the right – 286

The nos to the left – 344

She’s lost again!

That’s a majority of 58.

May is speaking again now.

“The legal default is the UK is due to leave in 14 days’ time,” she says.

An alternative way forward must be agreed now, she says.

It is almost certain to involve an extension. 

“Mr Speaker, I fear we are reaching the limits of the process in this house,” she says. 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says the only option now is for May to go and call a general election.

SNP’s Ian Blackford echoes those calls, says May has lost the confidence of the house.

Immediate reaction from Brussels.

European Council president Donald Tusk has said he has called a meeting of leaders on 10 April.

So what now?

May has repeatedly ruled it out, but the UK could leave the EU without a deal on 12 April.

Or, it could seek a long extension to Article 50. This would mean that the UK takes part in European elections in May. 

Strong stuff from the opposition.

Green MP Caroline Lucas has said it’s “grotesque” that May cannot see her deal is dead.

The newly-formed Independent Group MP Heidi Allen says: “We must have a people’s vote now.”

Meanwhile, before MPs left the chamber, Nigel Dodds urged Theresa May to look at the Irish backstop. “She knows that that remains a problem.”

“She knows that the EU and Leo Varadkar has said that there will be no hard border… Use the time constructively to get that matter sorted out.”

The European Commission has issued a statement following the House of Commons vote.

“A no-deal scenario on 12 April is now a likely scenario,” it says. “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.”


“I wish this dreadful episode were over,” Dominic Grieve on Sky News, as he advocates for holding a referendum, putting the options to the people.

Grieve says the future of his own Conservative party could be “quite bleak” given recent events. 

Here’s a breakdown of how the votes went. There were over 30 Conservatives voting against May’s deal.

A statement is in from DUP MP Nigel Dodds.

He says: “We have encouraged the Government to do, as Dominic Raab has said, to return to Brussels on these issues and not simply to accept the position of the European Union as being unalterable.  The Government must use the remaining time to deal with widely held concerns across the House of Commons.

“For our part we will continue to use our position and influence within Parliament and with the Government to strongly argue the case for Northern Ireland and to work through each of the legislative stages in Parliament to eliminate the risk of Northern Ireland and its place within the internal market in the UK.”

He adds that in the coming weeks, the DUP “will continue to play a central role to chart a route that respects the democratic desire to leave the European Union but that does so in a way that strengthens our United Kingdom”.

Some good legal bantz here.

A useful summary here from Virgin Media News political correspondent Gavan Reilly.

More on that.

Here’s what May told the Commons immediately after the vote.

“Mr Speaker, I fear we are reaching the limits of this process in this House.

“This House has rejected no deal. It has rejected no Brexit. On Wednesday it rejected all the variations of the deal on the table.

Brexit PA Wire / PA Images PA Wire / PA Images / PA Images

“And today it has rejected approving the withdrawal agreement alone and continuing a process on the future.”

What is she left with then? Resigning? An election?

With an emergency meeting of EU leaders set for 10 April, it is clear Europe wants a clear indication from the UK about what it plans to do next well in advance of that.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling, whose birthday is next Monday on April Fool’s Day, has told Sky News said that “there is no scenario that doesn’t require the Withdrawal Agreement. which the House rejected today”.

“This route is one that MPs will come to regret,” he said.

“I think the last thing we need is a general election,” Grayling added.

The Pound has taken a hammering with the deal being rejected yet again.

It’s fallen through $1.30.

Steve Baker, from the ERG, is speaking to Sky News.

He’s one of the hardline Conservative rebels who voted against the deal.

“I will never surrender to this deal, or this backstop,” he says. “The Prime Minister has used up all her political capital,” he adds, saying it’s time she went. 

“This deal is not getting through, it’s no good. The backstop means we’ll indefinitely be trapped.”

Think I’m gonna patent the phrase “deal is dead” and stand outside Westminster selling t-shirts with that slogan on it.

That was a strong statement from the European Commission.

It said: “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.”

The EU are a united front on the way forward anyway.

It’s basically a “we’re ready for whatever happens, get your act together and tell us what you want.”

That’s a wrap from us on the day May’s deal was defeated yet again.

What happens now? No one really knows, but the Brexit saga will continue to lurch this way and that in the coming days and weeks.

We’ll have more analysis of the events today coming up on soon. 

Thanks for joining us.

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