Last night MPs once again failed to find a majority on any alternative Brexit plan, leaving a chaotic path towards leaving the EU mired in uncertainty less than two weeks before its departure date.
The EU has set Britain a deadline of April 12th to find an agreement in Parliament to the divorce terms or alternatively crash out of the European Union with a no deal Brexit.
MPs have already rejected the Prime Ministers Brexit divorce deal three times, shredding the Prime Ministers authority and her leadership which is hanging on by a thread.
The House of Commons seized the initiative last week by holding the first round of votes on eight alternative Brexit options but failed to find a majority on any of them.
After an initial vote they have been refined down to four, backbenchers voted again on Monday, hoping to find one solution that most of them could agree on.
All four failed to find a majority although the result was close for proposals to hold a second referendum and negotiate a permanent customs union with the EU.
The EU has called an emergency summit for April 10 and warned that without a plan, Britain risks abruptly ending ties with its largest trading partner two days later, causing huge economic disruption.
“With our British friends we have had a lot of patience, but even patience is running out,” European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said on Italian TV.
Following the result, Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the European Parliament’s Brexit committee, said: “A hard Brexit becomes nearly inevitable”.
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay hinted the government could now bring its deal back for a fourth vote this week and avoid a long delay to Brexit that would mean holding European Parliament elections in May.
He warned that otherwise “the default legal position is the UK will leave the EU in just 11 days time” without a deal — an option that experts have warned could cause huge economic disruption on both sides of the Channel.
“Cabinet will meet in the morning to consider the results of tonight’s vote and how we should proceed,” Barclay said.
When MPs meet again on Wednesday “the UK has a last chance to break the deadlock or face the abyss,” Verhofstadt said.
The first motion, calling for the government to negotiate a permanent customs union with the EU, was defeated by 276 votes to 273.
The second option, dubbed “Common Market 2.0”, would accept May’s divorce terms but require her to negotiate a new EU customs arrangement and membership of the EU single market. It was beaten by 282 votes to 261.
A vote on plans for a second referendum went down by 292 to 280, this is despite the online petition reaching over 6 million votes.
The final option, which would have instructed the government to revoke the legislation to leave the EU a day before Britain is due to crash out, was rejected by 292 to 191.
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