Vote for Article 50 extension may mean Brexit delay

Elias Hubbard
March 14, 2019

Michael Gove leads the debate for the PM after she lost her voice MPs wait for the result of an amended motion on rejecting leaving the European Union with no deal.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said that Brexit should be completed before the European elections which take place between May 23 and 26.

"Therefore the House has to understand and accept that if it is not able to support a deal in the coming days and if it is not willing to support leaving without a deal on the 29th of March then it is suggesting that there will need to be a much longer extension to Article 50".

Mr Juncker was clear during his meeting with the Prime Minister in Strasbourg that there was no more room for movement. She is now expected to bring her Brexit plan to the Commons for a third time next week.

Leo Varadkar said yesterday that he no longer has faith that further assurances would lead to the Brexit withdrawal agreement being passed.

The discussion on Article 50 is done and dusted.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday refused to say how long she thinks a possible delay to Brexit should be, but said it was in "our mutual interest that we achieve an orderly departure".

An influential member of the European Parliament said Britain was likely to get the bloc's approval for a Brexit delay if it asks for one.

The debate on Wednesday would in theory allow the Commons to decide whether to hold a series of indicative votes to find which Brexit approach could command a majority in the house.

In chaotic Commons scenes, Mrs May lost control of the Brexit process again in the face of a massive Remainer rebellion.

Before MPs voted on the Government's motion, they supported an amendment tabled by Labour MP Yvette Cooper rejecting a no-deal Brexit under any circumstances by 312-308 votes.

Mrs May last night touted the prospect of a third "meaningful vote" on her Brexit deal but faced an immediate backlash from MPs.

MPs then voted by 321 votes to 278 to back the motion. A total of 13 Government ministers - including Amber Rudd, David Mundell, David Gaulke and Greg Clarke - defied the whips by abstaining.

"If these cabinet members have abstained on a whipped vote they should not be in government".

Labour MPs welcomed the result.

Retail Northern Ireland chief executive Glyn Roberts said the Commons vote brought "some degree of certainty" for business.

"We will be putting an amendment down to ensure parliament considers an extension, it doesn't necessarily have to be a long extension", Labour's finance spokesman John McDonnell told Sky News. "I don't want to see anything done that would undermine the Union", he added.

But if there is a no-deal Brexit, things are a lot more uncertain - the Government has been ramping up preparations to try to prevent shortages of food and medicine amid fears that increased bureaucracy will clog up key ports where goods arrive from the Continent.

He later said: "I've always opposed a no-deal Brexit".

"A no-deal outcome would be a disaster for the United Kingdom as a whole, but a catastrophe for Northern Ireland, so it is right to rule it out. This needs to be tested in Parliament as a matter of urgency".

Dr Farry said he was "appalled" that DUP MPs voted to keep no-deal on the table.

"This is utterly reckless and irresponsible".

"The Commons vote provides a crumb of comfort for the people of Northern Ireland during what has been a really disconcerting week", she said.

The government has now said that MPs can vote on whether to back an attempt to get a "one-off extension" of the two-year period set out in Article 50.

Most Welsh Tory MPs - Chris Davies, David TC Davies, Glyn Davies, Simon Hart, David Jones and Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns - voted against the no-deal motion.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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