London: British lawmakers have voted to delay Brexit, just 15 days before the country is scheduled to leave the European Union. MPs have voted by 413 to 202 in support of a government motion which will seek to extend the Article 50 deadline.
The House of Commons voted in favour of seeking to postpone the U.K.’s departure for at least three months beyond the scheduled March 29 departure from the EU. The number in favour was raised to 413 after being announced earlier as 412 in the chamber.
Under its terms, if Theresa May’s deal passes by 20 March, she will ask the EU for a short extension, in order to pass the necessary legislation to leave. If May’s deal does not pass by 20 March, then the government will ask the EU for a longer extension. If the UK cannot agree an extension with the EU before the 29 March, then Britain will still leave without a deal.
The motion commits Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative government to seek an extension until June 30 if Parliament approves a U.K.-EU withdrawal deal next week.
British lawmakers have already rejected May’s EU divorce deal twice and if it fails a third time, the government says the U.K. is looking at a much longer delay to Brexit.
Any extension to Brexit has to be approved by all 27 remaining EU countries.
The vote came after Prime Minister Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement was rejected for the second time on Tuesday and MPs voted the following day to rule out a no-deal Brexit.
Provided the proposal is agreed to by the EU, Britain’s torturous Brexit will now likely be postponed until June 30.
Despite a vote to hold a second referendum on Brexit being defeated earlier Friday, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn told Parliament that the Labour Party still supported another public vote.
“I reiterate our support on a public vote, not as a politically point-scoring, but as a realistic option to break the deadlock,” Mr Corbyn said.
Mr Corbyn said the past few days of “government chaos” had put responsibility on Ms May to not only delay Britain’s exit from the EU, but also to “publicly accept that both her deal and no-deal are simply no longer viable options”.
The plan to postpone Brexit still requires approval by the leaders of the 27 remaining EU states at a Brussels summit next week.
Ms May has made clear that she will press her Agreement to a third “meaningful vote” in the Commons by March 20 in the hope of securing the support of MPs who rejected it by 230 votes in January and 149 earlier this week.
If she succeeds, she will go to Brussels next Thursday to request a short delay to a date no later than June 30, to give herself time to get her deal through the UK parliament.
But if her deal is rejected for a third time, she believes any extension would have to be far longer and would involve the UK taking part in European Parliament elections in May.
Earlier, MPs decisively rejected an attempt by the Independent Group to secure a second referendum on Brexit by 334 votes to 85.
And by the far narrower margin of 314 to 312, they voted down a cross-party bid for Parliament to seize control of the Brexit process by forcing a set of “indicative votes” to determine the preferred Brexit outcome of the House of Commons.
A Labour Party amendment demanding an extension to Article 50 withdrawal negotiations to provide time to “find a majority for a different approach” was also defeated.
Labour whipped its MPs to abstain on the referendum vote, but 24 voted in favour – not including Brighton’s Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who went through both lobbies to cancel his own vote out.
Labour revealed that Mr Corbyn and senior aides have met with backbenchers Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson, who are promoting a plan to accept Ms May’s deal on the condition that it is subject to a second referendum.