British lawmakers back Brexit delay - Newspaper

UK Parliament votes to delay Brexit but rejects second referendum

UK Parliament votes to delay Brexit but rejects second referendum

Britain will now nearly certainly not leave the bloc as initially scheduled on March 29.

The motion to extend the UK's exit was put forward to MPs at Westminster yesterday (Thursday) and was passed by 413 votes to 202.

An often chaotic set of votes in parliament this week has shown that none of the alternatives - such as leaving with no deal, a referendum or allowing parliament to decide how to leave - can muster a majority among lawmakers yet.

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.

But she must win over dozens of Brexit-supporting rebels in her own Conservative Party and the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which props up her minority government.

Britain's crisis over European Union membership is approaching its finale as May continues to fight to build support for her divorce deal, which is expected to be put before lawmakers for a third time next week. It has twice been defeated, by a margin of 230 in January and 149 this past week.

The short delay envisaged in the motion could last until June 30, but the longer extension is not now time-limited.

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The Prime Minister apparently breaking her word by attempting to Article 50 - she will require the EU's agreement to do so - will leave many wondering whether they can trust her other promises; for example her vow to stand aside as party leader before the next general election, made in exchange for Tory MPs not backing her ouster in a recent vote of no confidence.

With less than two weeks before Britain is due to leave the EU, Mrs May seems to be clinging on to her waning authority by a thread after a series of humiliating defeats.

This week alone, lawmakers voted to defeat May's withdrawal agreement, to rule out leaving the European Union without a deal, and to seek a Brexit delay.

The Prime Minister survived a no confidence vote from her own party MPs in December, so she can not be ousted by the Conservatives until the end of the year.

If MPs vote against it for the third time, the government has warned it will have to seek a much longer extension.

Speaker of the House John Bercow was criticised by a number of Conservative Brexiter MPs for not selecting any of the amendments which would categorically rule out a second referendum; although, as he pointed out, any MPs strongly opposed to a second referendum could vote against Amendment H without difficulty.

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