A third vote on the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement was overwhelmingly rejected by the British House of Commons on 29 March by a 344 to 286 vote, leaving the open the question of general election after embattled Prime Minister Theresa May in a perilous predicament.
The scale of May’s government defeat was narrower than the previous attempts but has left her in the awkward position of resigning or calling for a fourth vote. The House of Commons is due to continue with a serious of non-whipped indicative votes on Monday, a UK spokesperson told New Europe.
The European Commission made clear that any such votes will make little difference in the mechanics of the Withdrawal process, but the Council will meet on 10 April to discuss the matter further.
“In view of the rejection of the Withdrawal Agreement by the House of Commons, I have decided to call a European Council on 10 April,” said European Council President Donald Tusk, immediately responding to the result.
“We expect the UK to indicate a way forward before then, well in time for the Council to consider.” added an EU official who was commenting on Tusk’s decision to call a summit.
The EU wants Britain to explain its Brexit plan B by 8 April as 10 April will be held just two days before the new Brexit deadline, which was set for 12 April.
The Commission said it “regrets” the results of the third vote in Commons, but reiterated that t the extension period to 12 April “will be for the UK to indicate the way forward before that date, for consideration by the European Council”.
“A no-deal scenario on 12 April is now a likely scenario. The EU has been preparing for this since December 2017 and is now fully prepared for a no-deal scenario at midnight on 12 April. The EU will remain united”.
“The implications of the House’s decision are great,” May told MPs after the announcement of the devastating result, suggesting that this should be “a matter of profound regret” for every member of the chamber.
“We have to agree on an alternative way forward,” added May. “There is not enough time” to pass legislation for alternative arrangements, according to May, who added that this does not allow the UK to exit the EU in an orderly manner.
“The EU has been clear that any further extension will need to have a clear footed purpose…It will need to be agreed unanimously by the heads of EU-27 ahead of 12 April.” according to May.