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MPs could vote on May's deal for FOURTH time as it's warned hard Brexit is 'nearly inevitable'

Meanwhile, Leo Varadkar said: “No one should underestimate the difficulties that a no deal will present.”

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER Theresa May may bring her Brexit deal before the House of Commons for a fourth time after MPs rejected alternative options in a series of votes last night.

Four options were voted on by MPs yesterday, with the motion on staying in a customs unions only three votes shy of passing.

Here’s how they voted:

  • Customs Union – Ayes 273, Nos 276
  • Common Market 2.0 – Ayes 261, Nos 282
  • Confirmatory Public Vote – Ayes 280, Nos 292
  • Revoke Article 50 if faced with no-deal Brexit – Ayes 191, Nos 292

The votes, like the eight motions rejected by MPs last Wednesday, were indicative rather than legally binding.

Nick Boles, the pro-EU Tory MP who had backed the Common Market 2.0 option, resigned the party whip in the immediate aftermath of the results being announced. 

May is set to hold a five-hour Cabinet meeting today to discuss how to move forward. 

After receiving a short extension, Britain now has 10 days to either request more time or leave the European Union without a deal.

An extraordinary meeting of the European Council is due to be held on 10 April, two days before the UK must indicate a way forward.

The Withdrawal Agreement struck between May’s government and the EU may now be voted on for a fourth time. An amendment could be added to it to make it different from previous versions that were voted on, in a bid to appease Speaker of the House John Bercow.

If MPs are asked to vote on the deal once more, this would likely happen tomorrow. If it’s rejected again, there is speculation that a general election could be called in a bid to break the political deadlock.

Given the uncertainty of the coming weeks and months, preparations for a no-deal Brexit are continuing.

Responding to last night’s votes, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt said a hard Brexit is becoming “nearly inevitable”.

Speaking in Brussels this morning, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier echoed this sentiment, saying a no-deal scenario “becomes day after day more likely”. However, he said he hopes such an outcome can still be avoided. 

‘No one should underestimate the difficulties’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is set to meet French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris today to discuss Brexit. 

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Varadkar thanked France for its “ongoing solidarity” and “the clear commitment that the Withdrawal Agreement must include an operational backstop to avoid a hard border” on the island of Ireland.

“I am keen to discuss the possible scenarios arising from this week, particularly how the European Council should respond to a request for another extension, should there be one, and ongoing efforts to secure ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement.”

Varadkar said “it is now up to the UK to show how it plans to proceed and avoid a no-deal scenario”, adding:

We are preparing for all outcomes, and have prepared intensively for a no deal. But no one should underestimate the difficulties that a no deal will present, for all of us.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to travel to Dublin on Thursday to discuss Brexit with Varadkar. 

Contains reporting from © AFP 2019  

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Órla Ryan

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