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Brexit live updates | Parliament again rejects Theresa May’s Brexit deal on day Britain was supposed to ‘take back control’
By Karla Adam
Karla Adam London correspondent covering the United Kingdom
March 29 at 10:42 AM
NEWS: March 29 was to be the day Britain left the European Union.
Instead, the House of Commons voted against a partial version of the
deal negotiated between the British prime minister and the E.U. Britain
has until April 12 to propose a new way forward or crash out of the bloc
without a deal.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
LONDON — Happy Brexit Day! Not! Yet? Ever?
Prime Minister Theresa May will offer a stripped-down version of her
twice-defeated Brexit deal to Parliament, in another “last ditch” and
“cliff edge” attempt to exit from the European Union.
Painful to watch? Totally. So everyone is tuning in.
vote in the House of Commons comes on the day Britain was due to “take
back control” and depart the continental trading bloc.
Boris Johnson arrives at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday. (Dominic Lipinski/AP)
instead of Brexiteers gulping pints and waving Union Jack flags to
celebrate what they were, once upon a time, calling “British
Independence Day,” (copyright pending re: American Revolution) the
parliamentarians are still debating how and whether they want to leave.
should have been the day that the United Kingdom left the European
Union. That we are not leaving today is a matter of deep personal regret
to me,” May said, moments before lawmakers started voting.
are those who will say, ‘the House has rejected every option so far,
you’ll probably lose, so why bother?’ I bother because this is the last
opportunity to guarantee Brexit,” she said.
last-minute wheeling and dealing, many observers suspect May’s exit
plan will, on this third attempt, not pass — even after the prime
minister promised to resign if her own Conservative Party could help
deal over the line.
But there is movement. Some of the hardcore Brexiteers are crossing over.
a series of tweets on Friday morning, Boris Johnson, Britain’s former
foreign secretary and a favorite to replace May, explained his
Recall: Johnson once
described May’s deal as something akin to donning a “suicide vest,” but
on Friday said that not voting for it posed the “risk of being forced to
accept an even worse version of Brexit or losing Brexit altogether.”
Dominic Raab, the former Brexit secretary and another potential contender for May’s job, said he was now on board.
“I will vote for the motion,” he said, prompting cheers and jeers in the Commons on Friday.
Backing it will “stave off a longer extension and prevent European elections in May,” Raab said
May needs more than just Conservative Party “switchers.” She needs the
Democratic Unionist Party, who on Thursday night said they would be
voting against the government.
She also needs a handful of Labour lawmakers.
leader Jeremy Corbyn told Parliament the deal was “bad for our
democracy, bad for our economy and bad for this country” and he urged
lawmakers “not to not to be cajoled for this third-time-lucky strategy
and vote it down today.”
On Friday, the House
of Commons will vote only the 585-page withdrawal agreement. That’s the
part of the treaty that spells out, in a legally binding way, how much
Britain will pay to leave the European Union ($50 billion), how the
two-year transition will preserve the status quo for trade and travel
(no change), and how Britain and the European Union will treat each
other’s citizens in the interim (nobody gets kicked out of anybody’s
The withdrawal agreement also
includes the controversial “Irish backstop,” an ironclad guarantee to
preserve the open, invisible border between Northern Ireland and the
Republic of Ireland — with trade-offs that have been a stopping point in
Parliament will not vote Friday on
the second part of the treaty, the political declaration, which sets out
the aspirations for the future relationship on trade, security and
The hope, from Team May, is that the
withdrawal agreement on its own will win over more votes than the
overall agreement. They’re also trying to get around a ruling by House of Commons Speaker John Bercow that the government cannot repeatedly present the same motion for a vote.
Friday, Brexit dominated the front pages of British newspapers and
websites — but not in the way Brexiteers might have imagined exactly two
years ago, Britain gave its formal notice to the E.U. that it would be
leaving the bloc on March 29, 2019.
Hour for Democracy,” ran the front-page headline in the Daily Express,
one of the most pro-Brexit newspapers. “One Last Chance,” said the Daily
Mail, urging parliamentarians to “put your country first” and back
May’s deal. “The day of reckoning,” said the Daily Telegraph.
On social media, the search term trending was “Kafka Brexit,” in a nod to the twisted, nightmarish qualities of Franz Kafka’s fictional world.
Also popular: A Banksy painting portraying the members of Parliament as chimps, on display at the Bristol Museum.
still, May presses on. When a BBC reporter asked a cabinet minister why
the prime minister would hold the vote when she almost certainly faces
defeat, he was told: “F--- knows. I am past caring. It is like the
living dead in here.”
On Friday, the
newly-formed group of lawmakers known as the Independent Group applied
to form a new political party called ChangeUK, which hopes to field
candidates in the European elections if Britain takes part in them. The
group is formed of 11 politicians who broke away from the Conservative
and Labour Party over their handling of Brexit.
The E.U. gave Britain
until the end of this week to approve the withdrawal agreement. If it
does get rubber stamp today, then Brexit Day will be extended to May 22.
If today’s vote doesn’t pass, then Britain has until April 12 to propose a new plan, or leave the bloc without a deal.
is in fact really the last chance we have to vote for Brexit as we
understood it," Liam Fox, Britain's international trade minister, told