Last night the House of Commons passed a motion to reject a no-deal Brexit by 321 to 278 votes. MPs had earlier supported an amendment moved by Yvette Cooper MP which altered the Government’s original wording, which specified the date of 29 March 2019, to rule out a no-deal indefinitely.
As a result of the amendment, the Government whipped Conservative MPs to vote against its own motion. Several ministers defied this instruction.
However, the motion rejecting no-deal is not binding and legally the UK could still leave the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement on 29 March 2019 unless an extension is agreed with the EU.
Today MPs will vote on a Government motion to seek an extension of Article 50 with the EU to delay Brexit. The wording of the Government’s motion is as follows:
- If the House approves a Withdrawal Agreement, the Government will seek a one-off extension of Article 50 for a period ending on 30 June 2019.
- If the House has not approved a Withdrawal Agreement by 20 March 2019, then it is highly likely that the European Council at its meeting the following day would require a clear purpose for any extension, not least to determine its length, and that any extension beyond 30 June 2019 would require the United Kingdom to hold European Parliament elections in May 2019.
A spokesperson for the European Commission reiterated the EU’s position: ‘There are only two ways to leave the EU: with or without a deal. The EU is prepared for both. To take no deal off the table, it is not enough to vote against no-deal, you need to agree to a deal. We have agreed a deal with the Prime Minister and the EU is ready to sign it.’