May's agreement fails for third time, EU plans April 10 meeting
UPDATE: March 29, 2019:
Parliament rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's withdrawal agreement for the third time with a vote of 344 to 286 today. May had offered her resignation if the legislation passed. This vote was slightly different than the previous two as it only covered the withdrawal agreement, which covers aspects of the separation like the backstop, trade and immigration. Today's vote did not include the political declaration, which covers the relationship between the U.K. and EU. After the vote, the EU announced plans to meet April 10 to continue Brexit discussions, Reuters reported. The EU extended May's Brexit deadline until May 22 on the condition that she would be able to pass an agreement. The extension is only until April 12 now that the agreement has failed.
- Members of Parliament earlier this week submitted 16 ideas for how to move forward with Brexit. Speaker of the House John Bercow chose eight of the ideas for a series of "indicative votes" that took place yesterday — none of these plans received a majority.
- The votes came after Prime Minister Theresa May said she planned to step down if her Brexit agreement is passed and the U.K. leaves the EU. But MPs who are seen as vital to the passage of her agreement have already said they're still unlikely to support it. The EU gave the U.K. until Friday to pass an agreement to move the departure deadline to May 22. The government is planning another debate for tomorrow, according to the Associated Press.
- The House of Commons is expected to hold another round of indicative votes next week, "potentially with fewer options, though this remains speculative," Parliament announced.
While the government announced plans for debate for tomorrow, it is not clear if it plans to bring May's agreement up for a third vote, the Associated Press reported. Bercow said early last week May's agreement cannot be voted on for a third time unless it is "substantially" different than the previous version that has now failed twice to pass Parliament.
None of the indicative votes gained a clear majority, but they did provide some clarity on the situation. Some plans were rejected forcefully, including a no-deal break, which was voted down 400 to 160.
The most popular plan was a customs union, which was voted down 272 to 264. The second most popular plan was a confirmatory referendum on May's plan.
This lack of consensus after the indicative vote means leaving without a deal is looking ever more likely, Chris Stafford, a doctoral researcher at the University of Nottingham, wrote in The Conversation.
If Parliament is able to come up with a plan that is approved by a majority of its members, it's still up to the EU to approve it if it requires another deadline change.
"At the moment, the EU has made it very clear that the UK can leave with the current deal on May 22, or with no deal at all on April 12," Stafford wrote. "Whatever parliament can or cannot agree on, it will all be for nothing if the EU refuses to budge."
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