Parliament rejects plan to hold more Brexit indicative votes as Speaker breaks tie

by - 3 min read

Parliament rejects plan to hold more Brexit indicative votes as Speaker breaks tie

by - 3 min read

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Britain’s House of Commons rejected a plan to hold more indicative votes on Brexit next Monday, while Prime Minister Theresa May met the leader of the main opposition party earlier on Wednesday for talks on ending the impasse over the country’s departure from the European Union.

Lawmakers were tied on the amendment, voting 310-310, but Speaker John Bercow voted against in accordance with the conventions of the House.

“In accordance with precedent and on in the principle that important decisions should not be taken except by a majority, I cast my votes with the no’s. So the No’s have it,” Bercow said.

Shortly after, lawmakers narrowly voted in favour of allowing an attempt on Monday to pass legislation seeking to prevent a no-deal Brexit. 

May’s meeting with Corbyn was a surprise about-face that left pro-Brexit members of May’s Conservative Party angry.

Brexit secretary Steve Barclay said the government did not setting preconditions for the talks nor offer a “blank cheque” to Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn. Barclay told the BBC that some Labour proposals, such as a customs union with the EU, would be “very difficult” for the government to accept, but both sides need to sit down and work out an agreement to avoid a damaging no-deal Brexit.

“There will need to be compromise on all sides,” he said, adding that the “remorseless logic” of Parliament’s failure to back the prime minister’s withdrawal agreement with the EU is that Britain must move toward a softer form of Brexit.

Meanwhile, a second minister has quit May’s government over her decision to seek a Brexit compromise with the Opposition.

Chris Heaton-Harris, a junior Brexit minister, said Wednesday that May “should have honoured the result of the 2016 referendum” to leave the European Union and withdrawn as planned on March 29.

The EU extended that long-scheduled date to April 12 at May’s request, and the prime minister says she plans to ask for even more time.

“The country needs a solution, the country deserves a solution, and that’s what I’m working to find,” May told lawmakers.

Corbyn said he welcomed May’s “willingness to compromise to resolve the Brexit deadlock” and looked forward to talks with her.

Heaton-Harris published his resignation letter to May saying “every time we seek an extension to this process we diminish faith in our political system.”

Nigel Adams, also a junior minister, resigned earlier Wednesday over May’s handling of Brexit.

No delay without deal, Juncker says

May said on Tuesday she would seek “as short as possible” a delay to the current Brexit date, having repeatedly said she did not want Britain to have to take part in European Parliament elections on May 23.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said Ireland would support a delay, but Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said there was currently no reason to agree an extension.

And European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Britain would not get any further short delays to Brexit unless its Parliament ratified a deal by April 12 — the date set by EU leaders as the effective cut-off for avoiding the European Parliament elections.

“A ‘no-deal’ at midnight on the 12th of April is now a very likely scenario,” he told the European Parliament.

He reiterated that Britain would not get a transition period to soften the impact of leaving the EU unless it ratified the exit deal. “[The] U.K. will be affected more than EU because there is no such thing as a ‘managed or negotiated no-deal’ and there is no such thing as a ‘no-deal transition,'” Juncker said.

As things stand, Britain will leave the EU on April 12 without a deal, a scenario many Conservative lawmakers would welcome but businesses fear could cause huge economic damage.

EU lawmakers, meanwhile, backed a plan saying British citizens should be allowed to travel in Europe visa-free after Brexit — but only if the U.K. grants the same right to EU citizens.

The EU’s civil liberties committee voted overwhelmingly Wednesday (38-8, with three abstentions) to allow tourism or business trips.

The move permits stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period, but does not grant the right to work. The full parliament is likely to endorse the decision Thursday.

This story originally appeared on CBC

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