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UK MPs set to vote for delay to Brexit Day

Press Trust of India  |  London 

In yet another day of hyper activity in the House of Commons, British will return on Thursday to debate and then vote on delaying the March 29 Day deadline that was set in motion after the UK voted to leave the (EU) in a referendum in June 2016.

The latest vote follows a decisive rejection by Parliament on Wednesday night to rule out leaving the EU without any deal, in two separate votes.

British soldiered on amid a further blow to her leadership and told the Commons that leaving the 28-member economic bloc without any deal in place by March 29 remains the default option unless a new vote calls for a delay and then the EU accepts such an extension.

Meanwhile, May will also make a third attempt to get agreement passed through, after it was rejected by huge margins in two previous votes in January and then again earlier this week.

"If the House finds a way in the coming days to support a deal, it would allow the government to seek a short limited technical extension to Article 50 to provide time to pass the necessary legislation and ratify the agreement we have reached with the EU," May said in her Commons statement on Wednesday night.

"But let me be clear, such a short technical extension is only likely to be on offer if we have a deal in place," she said, in a kind of ultimatum to to reconsider their stance on voting for her deal with the "legally binding" changes to the controversial Irish backstop clause.

She warned that Parliament will have to accept that, if it is not willing to support a deal in the coming days, and as it is not willing to support leaving without a deal on March 29, then it is suggesting that there will need to be a much longer extension to Article 50.

Such an extension would require the UK to hold elections scheduled for May, which she dismissed as not the "right outcome" as it would put itself in jeopardy.

As things stand, are set to vote on a government motion on Thursday evening seeking a one-off extension of the Article 50 Brexit mechanism until June 30.

Among the amendments to be considered, the MPs will also decide whether to have a deal in place by March 20 so that the at its meeting the following day can agree to the short extension.

However, if May's deal fails to clear Parliament for a third time by next week, the chances are that the will demand a much longer extension in order to work on alternatives.

The Northern (DUP), which twice refused to back May's deal in the Commons over fears of the backstop dividing from the rest of the UK, is due to hold talks with the government to see if a solution could be found allowing its MPs to support the PM in a future vote.

A DUP said they wanted to find "a sensible deal for the entire UK and one that works for our neighbours in the Republic of Ireland".

Any breakthrough with the DUP could effectively translate into more support from hard-Brexiteers for agreement, which she insists remains the only viable option on the table as the Brexit deadline looms.

On another dramatic night in Westminster on Wednesday, the Commons first voted on an amendment to reject the UK exiting the EU without a deal under any circumstances, by a margin of four. That meant the government's original motion which had stated that the UK should not leave the EU without a deal on 29 March was changed at the last minute.

The development put in a quandary as she had wanted to keep no-deal on the table beyond the March 29 deadline and ordered Conservative MPs to vote against the government's own motion.

However, that move failed and resulted in a fresh Commons humiliation for May as her party members and ministers defied her orders, with some ministers abstaining instead of voting against the motion.

The updated motion, to reject a no-deal Brexit under any circumstances, was passed by 321 to 278, a majority of 43. However, that vote is effective only if another vote calls for an extension and the EU agrees.

"The legal default in EU and UK law is that the UK will leave without a deal unless something else is agreed. The onus is now on every one of us in this House to find out what that is," May told MPs through a lingering

Opposition has called for the Parliament to now take control of the Brexit process. The party has also withdrawn an initially declared plan of putting agreement to the people through a second referendum and demanded a instead.

Meanwhile, on the EU side, tweeted he would "appeal to the EU27 to be open to a long extension if the UK finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus around it".

A said: "There are only two ways to leave the EU: with or without a deal. The EU is prepared for both.

"To take no deal off the table, it is not enough to vote against no deal - you have to agree to a deal. We have agreed a deal with the and the EU is ready to sign it."

All eyes continue to be on the this week as MPs continue to muddle through the various permutations of Britain's exit from the EU. The one thing that now looks most likely is some sort of a delay to the the March 29 exit deadline.

However, as has been the case throughout the Brexit negotiations process, no outcome can be ruled out until the very last minute.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, March 14 2019. 18:46 IST