UK's House of Commons approves legislation on delayed Brexit
04 April 2019
The House of Commons of the Lower House of the British Parliament on Wednesday approved a legislation under which Prime Minister Theresa May will seek a delay in Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) to prevent a crash-out on 12 April.
The bill proposes that May ask the European Union for an extension to the Brexit date beyond 12 April so that the exit won’t come without a deal. Parliament will decide on the quantum of the delay.
The development comes amid negotiations between May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to end the deadlock on the matter. The bill is subject to an approval from the House of Lords and needs the European Union’s permission for an extension on the United Kingdom’s exit from the bloc.
The legislation, tabled by opposition Labour lawmaker Yvette Cooper, was rushed through all of its stages in the House in less than six hours. It was approved at the final stage by 313 votes to 312.
May had earlier said she would seek another short extension to Brexit beyond the 12 April deadline and try to work with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to get her Brexit deal approved in Parliament
The Bill requires May to get Parliament's approval for the detail of any delay and allows lawmakers to propose a different length of extension. The legislation, according to Cooper, was needed to set out a clear process for how decisions are taken over the length of any extension.
“Perhaps crucially it would demonstrate to the EU parliamentary support for what the Prime Minister is asking for,” she told Parliament during the debate on the legislation.
May must now present a summit of EU leaders next Wednesday to win approval in Parliament for the Withdrawal Agreement that she negotiated with Brussels.
May has said that if she cannot agree for a unified approach with Corbyn, the government would come up with options on the future relationship with the EU and put them to Parliament in a series of votes.
Pro-Brexit Conservative lawmaker Bill Cash described it as ”a constitutional revolution”.
“This is a grave moment in our constitutional history. I think the Bill is reprehensible ... I think it is a disgrace that it was brought in,” he told Parliament ahead of the votes.
Conservative lawmaker Oliver Letwin, who was also involved in putting forward the legislation, said on Wednesday there was “overwhelming support in the House of Lords” for it and he anticipated it would pass through the Lords rapidly.
“The House of Lords has in fact already passed a motion which provides for the expeditious consideration of exactly this form of bill,” he said.