As Deadline Looms, Brexit Needs More Time

As Deadline Looms, Brexit Needs More Time

As Deadline Looms, Brexit Needs More Time

The British parliament voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to seek a delay to the March 29 exit date enshrined in law.

At a special political Cabinet meeting shortly before the votes, the Prime Minister is understood to have berated four ministers for defying the whip by abstaining the previous night when MPs voted to rule out a no-deal Brexit.

This incredible state of affairs has come to pass despite the Prime Minister having repeatedly promised that Article 50 would not be extended and that Brexit would be delivered "on time" - in line with her now long-abandoned mantra that "no deal is better than a bad deal". Parliament voted this week to seek to delay Britain's departure until at least June 30.

"What we have said is that obviously the British government will need to decide, if they do want an extension, how long they will want it for, and we will be positive and constructive in relation to that, when they put it forward", he told Bloomberg.

The vote against a no-deal Brexit was non-binding but investors believe Britain will now avert a disorderly European Union exit that would severely damage its economy.

Thursday's vote does not mean a delay is guaranteed; European Union consent is needed, and the default date for Britain to leave if there is no agreement is still March 29.

But Mr Verhofstadt tweeted afterwards: "Why EUCO (EU Commission) should allow an extension if the UK Gov and her majority in the House of Commons are not ready for a cross-party approach to break the current deadlock?"

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But Tory former minister Nick Boles said this would amount to a no-deal exit and the European Union would not agree to it. To take no deal off the table, it is not enough to vote against no deal - you have to agree to a deal.

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Attorney-general Geoffrey Cox said last-minute tweaks to the withdrawal agreement hammered out over two years by the United Kingdom and EU did not eliminate the risk that the United Kingdom could be trapped as a rule-taker in a customs union with the EU indefinitely, despite assurances from Prime Minister Theresa May.

The amendment for a second Brexit referendum was rejected by 334 to 85 votes.

May and her allies hope if the 10 DUP lawmakers can be persuaded to drop their opposition, many Brexiteer Conservatives will follow, giving her Brexit deal a fighting chance of winning Parliament's backing.

Speaking on a visit to Paris, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said "everyone would welcome" MPs approving the deal and Brexit being briefly pushed back to get the necessary legislation through.

He said the British government was "very focussed" on addressing the issue of the Irish backstop, an insurance policy that sets out what happens to the Irish border after Brexit.

But Parliament could also express its views on alternative options including another General Election, a vote of no confidence or another referendum.

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