Alternative Brexit options voted down by politicians in United Kingdom

Alternative Brexit options voted down by politicians in United Kingdom
Photo credit: Reuters

Britain's exit from the European Union remains deadlocked after the House of Commons failed to agree on any alternative to Prime Minister Theresa May's divorce deal, rejecting all indicative vote options.

After a tumultuous week in which May's divorce strategy was rejected by lawmakers for a third time, despite her offer to quit if it passed, the future direction of Brexit remains mired in confusion.

In a bid to break the impasse, lawmakers on Monday voted on four alternative Brexit options, but all four options were defeated.

The four options included remaining in a customs union with the EU; membership of the single market with a customs arrangement; putting any agreed deal to a second referendum; and halting Brexit altogether if necessary to avoid leaving the bloc without a deal.

The option that came closest to getting a majority was a proposal to keep Britain in a customs union with the EU, defeated by three votes.

Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay told the House of Commons the default legal position is that the UK will leave the EU in 11 days' time, and that to secure an extension Britain must provide a "credible" plan.

Mr Barclay said that if the House of Commons is able to agree a deal this week, it would still be possible to avoid European Parliament elections in May.

All 10 MPs from the Northern Irish party propping up British Prime Minister Theresa May's government voted against the four alternative Brexit options voted upon in parliament on Monday, a spokesman for the party said.

Conservative former minister Nick Boles, raising a point of order, said he can "no longer sit for this party" as it was incapable of compromise, and resigned.

A proposal for a confirmatory referendum on any deal - a People's Vote - got the most votes, but was defeated 292-280.

Last Friday, the third defeat of May's withdrawal agreement left one of the weakest British leaders in a generation facing a spiralling crisis over Brexit, the United Kingdom's most far-reaching policy change since World War Two.

Her government and her Conservative Party, which has been trying to contain a schism over Europe for 30 years, are now riven between those who are demanding that May pilot a decisive break with the bloc and those demanding that she rule out such an outcome.

If May were to throw her weight behind either camp, she would risk tearing her party apart and bringing down the government.

Britain had been due to leave the EU on March 29 but the political deadlock in London forced May to ask the bloc for a delay. As things stand, Britain will now depart at 2200 GMT on April 12.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said it was "disappointing" that none of the options had won a majority, but said MPs should have a chance to consider them again on Wednesday.

European Parliament Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt tweeted: "The House of Commons again votes against all options. A hard Brexit becomes nearly inevitable. On Wednesday, the UK has a last chance to break the deadlock or face the abyss."

Reuters