UK Parliament Rejects 4 More Paths to Orderly Brexit

Prime Minister Theresa May addresses lawmakers in the House of Commons on Wednesday. (Jessica Taylor/House of Commons via AP)

(CN) – The third time was not the charm for British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal, with the House of Commons voting down four paths she offered to avoid a messy “crash out” of the European Union in less than two weeks.

May’s government put forward four proposals for an orderly withdrawal from the EU, whittled down from the eight motions Parliament said no to last week.

Motion C proposed a customs union with the EU, Motion D would have the U.K. join the European Free Trade Association and the European Economic Area, Motion E called for putting the Brexit issue back before Brits and Motion G would have required lawmakers to pass a deal to leave to avoid “crashing out.”

All four were rejected late Monday, though the push for the customs union only lost by three votes. Monday’s votes were “indecisive votes,” meaning they would have been nonbinding if they had passed.

The repeated rejections of every option May has put before lawmakers demonstrates just how divided the U.K. is over leaving the European Union.

After the failure of Motion D, the so-called Common Market 2.0, Tory MP Nick Boles resigned as party whip.

“I have done everything I can to find a compromise,” Boles said. He later indicated he will remain in Parliament as an independent party member.

Britons voted in June 2016 to leave the European Union. In March 2017, May invoked the clause of the Treaty of the European Union, Article 50, which allows member states to leave the EU. That started the two-year clock for the parties to negotiate a withdraw agreement.

May managed to negotiate an extension of the deadline earlier, giving the U.K. until April 12 to seek another extension or depart without a deal. That deadline will be extended to May 22 only if the House of Commons agrees on the withdrawal agreement negotiated by May and the EU.

Since this past November when May negotiated the deal the House of Commons – which must sign off on all treaties – has refused to pass the deal three times. Pro-Brexit politicians argue the deal isn’t a clean enough break from the EU, while those who want Britain to stay in the EU say any deal would be worse than the U.K.’s current status.

Following the failure of the votes, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told the European Parliament that Britain will likely crash out of the EU without a deal in place.

“No deal was never our desired or intended scenario but the EU27 is now prepared. It becomes, day after day, more likely.”

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay told Parliament that the only option remaining to them was to leave without a deal. If MPs could agree to that this week, then the U.K. will not have to participate in elections for the European Parliament, scheduled for May. If the country remains in the EU, it will have to field candidates for the elections.

May is meeting with her cabinet Tuesday to discuss further options.

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