Sling them out or long delay: Europeans weigh Brexit options

Minnie Murray
March 16, 2019

"There will be Conservatives who vote against it come what may, that's why in order for it to pass three things have to happen: she has to get the DUP on board, she has to persuade as many as possible of the 75 (Brexiteer) Conservatives to vote for it, and she will nearly certainly need more Labour MPs", said John Whittingdale, a Conservative lawmaker and member of the pro-Brexit faction. It was approved by 413 votes to 202 (amending the initial announcement which had the numbers at 412-202).

Any delay in the Brexit process would require the unanimous approval of all 27 remaining European Union member states - and leaders in the bloc are exasperated at the events in London.

The 10 votes provided by the DUP, which has a parliamentary pact with the Conservatives, are thought to be key to the prime minister securing her deal.

Brexit is only Brexit if it delivers full independence of all areas of government, law and public administration, her deal does not do that.

Nearly two thirds of Tories voted against her motion to delay leaving the European Union, including cabinet ministers Liam Fox, Gavin Williamson, Liz Truss, Andrea Leadsom and Chris Grayling.

The Council is due to meet next Thursday and Friday (21 and 22 March).

How did Ms Rudd vote on Wednesday?

Conservative MPs were given a free vote on Mrs May's motion.

Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, said this morning he would appeal for EU leaders to agree to a "long" extension if the United Kingdom needs one to come up with a new Brexit plan.

But any extension must be approved unanimously by the EU27, and Austrian foreign minister Karin Kneissl said there could be "some problem" in obtaining this if it took Brexit beyond the date of elections. Most opposition Labour lawmakers did not back the measure and even campaigners for a so-called People's Vote said the time was not yet right for Parliament to vote on the matter.


Labour also refused to vote for or against a second referendum, despite supporting one publicly.

Hard Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg tweeted: "A second referendum, the so called "losers" vote', has now been defeated in the House of Commons so is it is off the table". She was wheeled into parliament having delayed the date of baby Raphael's birth by a day so she could join MPs voting against Mrs May's deal when it was first thrown out by MPs.

Speaking during Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's visit to the White House, Mr Trump said: "I'm surprised at how badly it's all gone from the standpoint of a negotiation".

"She didn't listen to that and that's fine - she's got to do what she's got to do. I hate to see everything being ripped apart now".

Alastair Campbell, a leading figure in the People's Vote campaign, agreed.

"Let us, as a House of Commons, work now to find a solution to deal with the crisis facing the country and the deep concerns that many people have for their livelihood, for their lives, their future, their jobs, their communities and their factories", he said.

Power to approve or reject the extension lies with the European Union, whose officials have said they will only allow a delay if Britain either approves a divorce deal or makes a fundamental shift in its approach to Brexit.

Originally, Corbyn had been against the idea of the second vote, yet with the abrupt exit of eight members of Labour, the leader favoured the referendum.

The European Parliament's Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, questioned why the EU should grant an extension if the British government is "not ready for a cross-party approach to break the current deadlock?"

Following the votes, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn reiterated his support for a further referendum after earlier ordering his MPs not to vote for one.

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