- Theresa May’s Brexit deal is defeated for a third time by 344 votes to 286.
- Significant numbers of Conservative Brexiteers switch to back May’s Withdrawal Agreement with the EU .
- But the Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May’s government, refuses to budge.
- Failure to pass the deal means the EU’s offer of a Brexit delay until May 22 falls.
- Britain now has until April 12 to agree a deal or be forced to seek a long Brexit delay.
LONDON — Theresa May’s Brexit deal has been defeated for a third time after MPs again voted by a significant majority to reject the Withdrawal Agreement she has negotiated with the EU.
The prime minister had urged Members of Parliament to back the deal, saying that it was " the last opportunity to guarantee Brexit."
She also warned that a vote against the deal would lead to Brexit being delayed again, with the UK being forced to take part in the upcoming European Parliament elections.
However, while significant numbers of Conservative Brexiteers did switch to back the deal, including the former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and the former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, it was not enough to secure a majority.
Crucially, the Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May’s minority government, refused to back the deal with most opposition MPs also resisting calls to switch sides.
Fears among Labour pro-European that large numbers of their MPs would back the deal were not realised, with many waverers put off by the prime minister’s commitment to stand down if the deal is passed.
The scale of the defeat was significantly lower than on previous occasions, failing by a majority of 58 votes, however.
Responding to the result, May told MPs: "I fear we are reaching the limits of this process in this House."
"This House has rejected no deal. It has rejected no Brexit. On Wednesday it rejected all the variations of the deal on the table.
"And today it has rejected approving the Withdrawal Agreement alone and continuing a process on the future."
European Council President Donald Tusk announced on Twitter that he would call an emergency meeting of the council on April 1o to respond to the result.
The result means that the EU’s offer of a delay to Brexit until May 22 will now expire with Britain due to leave on April 12 instead.
Any extension beyond that date would require Britain to take part in the upcoming European Parliament elections and likely trigger a lengthy extension to the Brexit process of at least a year.
It will also give space to those MPs pushing for a softer Brexit.
On Monday MPs will vote again on alternative plans to May’s deal. When a similar vote took place last Wednesday the option of remaining in a Customs Union with the EU was only narrowly defeated.
This is a developing story.
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- MPs vote to seize control of Brexit from Theresa May
- Theresa May pulls 3rd meaningful Brexit vote after DUP refuses to back deal