British lawmakers overwhelmingly back Brexit delay
CGTN

British lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to seek a delay in Britain's exit from the European Union until at least June.

Lawmakers approved by 412 votes to 202 a motion setting out the option to ask the EU for a short delay if parliament can agree on a Brexit deal by March 20 – or a longer delay if no deal can be agreed in time.

The vote means the UK may not leave on March 29 as previously planned. Lawmakers also rejected a call for a second referendum. Only 85 MPs voted in favor of a second referendum and 334 voted against.

The short delay granted by the motion could last until June 30, if MPs back Theresa May's Brexit deal in a vote next week. But May has warned that if MPs can't agree upon a deal in the coming days, she would ask for an even longer extension.

A longer extension would require unanimous approval from the other 27 EU members, whose leaders meet in a summit next Thursday.

Speaker of the House John Bercow speaks in Parliament following the vote on extending Brexit negotiating period in London, March 14, 2019. /VCG Photo

Speaker of the House John Bercow speaks in Parliament following the vote on extending Brexit negotiating period in London, March 14, 2019. /VCG Photo

Another vote

One day earlier, MPs voted against a no-deal Brexit after having twice rejected the deal struck by May with the other 27 EU nations – in January and on Tuesday.

May's spokesman said on Thursday that she would put that deal, struck after two-and-a-half years of talks with the EU, to another vote "if it was felt that it was worthwhile."

Before MPs voted to seek a delay of the March 29 deadline, European Council President Donald Tusk said that EU leaders meeting next Thursday will consider pressing Britain to delay Brexit by at least a year.

"I will appeal to the EU27 (remaining members) to be open to a long extension if the UK finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus around it," he said.

A number of leading EU figures have been calling for the bloc to refuse any extension beyond the May elections, or at the latest beyond July 2 when the new EU legislature convenes. Macron has voiced doubts about a longer extension, while Merkel has appeared more open to giving Britain time.

(Top image: Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May reacts during the debate on extending Brexit negotiating period in Parliament in London, March 14, 2019. /VCG Photo)

Source(s): AFP ,Reuters