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British lawmakers vote to reject no-deal Brexit by 321 to 278

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British lawmakers vote to reject no-deal Brexit by 321 to 278
British lawmakers vote to reject no-deal Brexit by 321 to 278. picture-alliance/Zumapress
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The House of Commons voted on Wednesday to rule out a no-deal Brexit scenario — an attempt to block the United Kingdom from crashing out of the European Union without a divorce agreement on March 29.

The second day of major Brexit votes comes a day after British lawmakers overwhelmingly voted to reject the withdrawal agreement brokered by Prime Minister Theresa May with the EU.

Lawmakers will now decide whether or not to ask Brussels to delay Brexit past its current March 29 deadline in another parliamentary Brexit vote on Thursday. A third vote on May's divorce deal is slated to be held on March 20.

Read more: Brexit: Is the EU willing to grant an Article 50 extension?

What happened during the vote

  • The British Parliament voted to rule out a no-deal Brexit by 321 to 278, backing an amended government motion. The reworded motion now rejects leaving the EU without a deal under any circumstance — something May previously said was impossible.
  • MPs narrowly voted 312 to 308 to amend the government's proposal in favor of ruling out a no-deal scenario indefinitely.
  • An amendment to have an "ordered" no-deal Brexit was defeated with 374 voting against and 164 in favor.
  • Parliament will vote on Thursday on whether to ask the EU for a delay.
  • The remaining 27 member states of the EU would need to unanimously agree to a Brexit delay, but EU leaders have said they need a solid reason for an extension.
Read more about how the vote unfolded below. All updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC)

20:40

More information has been released on Thursday's vote. May's government will propose holding a third parliamentary vote on her divorce deal with the EU on March 20. If British lawmakers reject the deal once again, then May says she will seek a Brexit deadline extension until June 30. It also states that the European Council is not likely to approve the extension without "a clear purpose" and that any longer extension would require the UK to hold European Parliament elections in May.

20:30

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has also weighed in on the latest Brexit vote, describing MP's decision as a "signal of reason." "The House of Commons has at least shown that the majority does not want a no-deal. This no-deal is in nobody's interest and we have made that clear again and again," Maas said in a statement posted on Twitter. "But now it is time for the British to say exactly what they want in order to bring the Brexit deal to a successful conclusion — because time is running out.

20:20

The European Commission warned British lawmakers that in order to ensure that a no-deal scenario doesn't happen, an agreement needs to be reached with Brussels. "It's not enough to vote against no deal — you have to agree to a [Brexit] deal," a Commission spokeswoman said. "We agreed to a deal with the prime minister and the EU is ready to sign it."

20:10

British Prime Minister Theresa May said that there will be another vote on Thursday on whether or not to ask the EU to extend the Brexit deadline past March 29. Asking for more time would likely lead to "a short, limited technical extension," but if MPs don't approve her divorce deal with the EU, "there will need to be a much longer extension."

19:52

Shortly following the vote, May said that the House of Commons has provided a "clear majority" against leaving the EU without a deal, but that lawmakers must now work to find a solution, as Brussels has made clear that it is not willing to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement.

19:50

MPs have voted 321 to 278 to reject a no-deal Brexit. The approved motion has changed greatly from the original draft submitted by the government. It now states that Parliament clearly rejects leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement — even after the Brexit deadline on March 29.

19:35

In the likely last vote of the night, lawmakers are voting on whether or not to support the government's motion — with the new amendment. It now reads: "this House rejects the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship," according to the BBC.

19:33

MPs have overwhelmingly voted to reject Amendment F for an "ordered" no-deal Brexit, with 374 voting against it and 164 in favor of it.

19:20

Lawmakers are now voting on Amendment F — the Malthouse Compromise. This amendment provides for an "ordered" no-deal Brexit, including rights for EU citizens living in the UK, a transition period until the end of 2021 as well as a series of "standstill agreements" to hold current rules in place.

19:16

MPs narrowly voted to approve Amendment A by 312 to 308. The amendment calls for the British government to rule out a no-deal Brexit, even after the March 29 deadline. The wording goes beyond the government's original motion, which said that a no-deal scenario is the legal default unless the EU and the UK secure a deal before March 29.

19:00

Lawmakers are now voting on Amendment A — to rule out a no-deal Brexit under all circumstances.

18:45

As the next key parliamentary Brexit vote approaches, Theresa May has said that her fellow Conservative lawmakers will be allowed to vote as they choose rather than along party lines on the government proposal and on Amendment F — a proposal for a "managed no-deal Brexit." Earlier, May's spokesman said that Conservatives will not be given a "free vote" on Amendment A, which rules out a no-deal Brexit under all circumstances.

18:30

Authorities in the Netherlands are preparing a digital system to try and minimize disruptions at Dutch ports in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The "Portbase" system allows freight haulers to fil out forms online before they arrive at ferry terminals for trips to the UK. The online system is currently being used for trips outside of the EU and is now being adapted to include the short trip between the Netherlands and the UK.

17:50

Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) will not support May's motion on rejecting a no-deal Brexit, the party's Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson told the BBC on Wednesday. Wilson said that the party instead would be backing Amendment F, or the "Malthouse Compromise," which sets up a structured plan for a no-deal Brexit. The DUP is currently propping up May's Conservative government.

17:25

There has been some confusion about whether Amendment A — which would attempt to rule out a no-Brexit deal under any scenario — will be voted on. Conservative lawmaker Caroline Spelman, who put forward the proposal, has said she no longer backs her amendment. Speaker John Bercow, however, said that Amendment A could still be voted on if one of the other signatories forces a vote on it.

16:50

The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that there is an informal Cabinet meeting scheduled at 18:10 UTC ahead of the votes on the "no deal."

16:30

French President Emmanuel Macron said that "a technical delay" for the March 29 Brexit deadline is possible, but that the UK would need to provide a clear reason. "But if an additional delay is requested, they need to explain why," Macron said during a visit to Kenya. "It cannot be to allow more negotiations over something we've already negotiated for many months and said cannot be further negotiated."

16:15

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party accused May of losing control over the Brexit process. "This is a rudderless government in the face of a huge national crisis," he said.

16:10

British Prime Minister Theresa May, who is losing her voice due to a cold, expressed frustration earlier on Wednesday over her deal's renewed defeat in Parliament on Tuesday, saying that there would be "hard choices" about what comes next. She has confirmed that she will be voting to reject a no-deal Brexit.

16:00

At the beginning of the latest Brexit debate in Parliament, Environment Secretary Michael Gove urged for lawmakers to consider the economic and constitutional challenges of leaving the EU without a deal, particularly the pressure on Northern Ireland.

15:45

What are lawmakers voting on tonight?

Government motion:

  • Parliament "declines to approve" leaving the EU without a deal on March 29.
  • The motion also notes, however, that leaving without a deal is the legal default unless a deal is agreed.
Ruling out 'no deal' (Amendment A — Spelman/Dromey amendment):

  • Parliament "rejects" leaving the EU without a deal — simplifying the language in the government proposal.
  • An attempt to rule out a no-deal Brexit under any scenario, including after March 29.
No-deal Brexit compromise (Amendment F — Malthouse Compromise):

  • Proposes a plan to mitigate the damage of leaving the EU without a deal.
  • Asks the EU to delay Brexit until May 22 to allow businesses more time to prepare.
  • Seeks a number of "standstill agreements" with the EU to effectively sustain the current rules during a transition period. Transition agreement would not last beyond the end of 2021.
  • Guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK.
rs/cmk (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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