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MPs have voted against Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement for a third time

Brexit is thrown into turmoil yet again with May’s latest defeat.

Image: House of Commons

Updated Mar 29th 2019, 5:23 PM

UK PRIME MINISTER Theresa May has been defeated in the House of Commons yet again – the third time she has failed to get her withdrawal deal through parliament.

In a vote this afternoon, MPs voted against her deal by 344 votes to 286 votes – a majority of 58.

There are now very few options left to May going forward.

She must now go back to Brussels and seek a longer extension to Article 50, delaying Brexit for a much greater time period.

Or the UK will now crash out of the EU on 12 April.

Speaking to the House of Commons following the vote, May said: “The legal default is the UK is due to leave in 14 days’ time.” 

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

It is almost certain to involve an extension. 

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

“This House has rejected no deal. It has rejected no Brexit. On Wednesday it rejected all the variations of the deal on the table. And today it has rejected approving the withdrawal agreement alone and continuing a process on the future.

This government will continue to press the case for the orderly Brexit tha the results of the referendum demands.

In light of the result, EU President Donald Tusk has decided to call a European Council meeting on 10 April. 

The European Commission has said “it will be for the UK to indicate the way forward” before 12 April, for consideration by the European Council. 

The Commission said in a statement that Britain crashing out of the EU in a no-deal Brexit on 12 April is now a “likely scenario”.

“The EU will remain united. The benefits of the Withdrawal Agreement, including a transitional period, will in no circumstances be replicated in a no-deal scenario,” it said, adding that “sectoral mini-deals are not an option”. 

Acknowledging today’s vote, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said “it is now up to the UK to indicate how it plans to proceed in order to avoid a no deal scenario”. 

“Ireland has been preparing intensively for a no deal scenario. But no one should underestimate the difficulties that a no deal will present, for all of us, including the UK. It is not clear that the UK has fully understood that no deal is not off the agenda. Rather, it’s a growing possibility,” Varadkar said. 

He added that “we must be open to a long extension should the United Kingdom decide to fundamentally reconsider its approach to Brexit and put back on the table some options previously ruled out”. 

Varadkar said he believes this will “result in a generous and understanding response” from the 27 EU member states. 

MPs’ reaction

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has told the House of Commons that the only option now is for May to go and call a general election.

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 said: “We must have a people’s vote now.”

Repeatedly, the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has said planned arrangements for the Irish border after Brexit are unacceptable. 

In a statement this afternoon, DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds MP reiterated that the party does not believe the Withdrawal Agreement is the best way forward for the UK. 

“In our recent discussions with the Government good progress has been made on how domestic legislation would assist in ensuring the economic integrity of the UK as a whole and recognising Northern Ireland’s particular situation sharing a land border with the European Union,” Dodds said.

However, regretfully the fact remains that sufficient progress has not been made.

“We deeply regret the numerous missed opportunities by those who negotiated on behalf of the UK to listen to our warnings about the dangers of the backstop and to take steps to remedy those deficiencies.”

He added 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”.

With reporting by Sean Murray

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