No-deal Brexit looms as Parliament dumps May's new deal
13 March 2019
British Prime Minister Theresa May failed to get an amended deal to take Britain out of the 27-member European Union passed in parliament, after lawmakers voted 391 to 242, raising chances of Britain crashing out of the EU without a deal.
Obviously, May’s last-minute talks with EU chiefs on Monday failed to assuage her critics' concerns. The British Parliament will now have to decide whether to back a no-deal Brexit or seek more time before the 29 March 2019 deadline for Britain to exit EU.
A no-deal exit from the EU would put Britain, the world's fifth largest economy, in an uneven position vis-à-vis its European peers, and could push Theresa May out of power and lead to a snap election or even another round of referendum.
May has time till 29 March to get the deal in parliament. But, as things stand, it is unlikely that she musters parliamentary support after two failures. May faces hardline eurosceptic lawmakers in her Conservative Party.
Lawmakers will now vote on whether Britain should quit the world's biggest trading bloc without a deal even as business leaders caution that such a move would disrupt markets and supply chains, causing shortages of food and medicines.
May said the government would not instruct her party's lawmakers how to vote, as would normally be the case. But the number of no-deal Brexiteers could be very less, even within the opposition Labour Party.
However, the prime minister, after Monday's late-night talks, told lawmakers: "Let me be clear. Voting against leaving without a deal and for an extension does not solve the problems we face."
She said parliament was now at an impasse: "Does it wish to revoke Article 50 (announcing intention to leave the EU)? Does it want to hold a second referendum? Or does it want to leave with a deal, but not this deal?"
Graham Brady, an influential Conservative lawmaker, said the two most likely scenarios were leaving the EU without a deal "or some kind of endless delay".
Andrea Leadsom, who manages government business in parliament, insisted however that "it is still our intention, if at all possible, to leave the EU on March 29 with a good deal".
The European Union said the risk of a damaging no-deal Brexit has "increased significantly" but there would be no more negotiations with London on the divorce terms.
A spokesman for European Council President Donald Tusk, representing EU governments, said Britain would have to provide a "credible justification" for any request to delay Brexit.
Britons voted by 52-48 per cent in 2016 to leave the EU, but the decision has left British society, including the main political parties deeply divided.