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The Latest: No Brexit alternative gets Parliament majority
March 27, 2019
LONDON (AP) — The Latest on Brexit (all times local):
British lawmakers have voted on eight different possible Brexit options, but none received the majority support that would clarify the U.K.’s course.
Parliament is trying to find an alternative to Prime Minister Theresa May’s twice-rejected EU divorce deal.
Lawmakers voted Wednesday on options that included leaving the European Union without a deal, staying in the bloc’s customs union and single market, putting any EU divorce deal to a public referendum, and canceling Brexit if the prospect of a no-deal departure gets close.
The strongest support was for a plan to stay in a customs union with the bloc after Brexit, which was defeated by eight votes: 272-264.
Lawmakers plan to narrow the list of options down and hold more votes on Monday.
Britain has until April 12 to find a new plan — or crash out of the EU without a deal.
A Northern Ireland party that props up Prime Minister Theresa May’s government says it won’t support her Brexit divorce deal, a blow to May’s hopes of winning approval for the agreement in Parliament.
The Democratic Unionist Party said Wednesday it won’t support the deal because of a provision designed keep an open border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.’s Northern Ireland after Brexit.
The pro-British Unionist party opposes the provision because it fears it would weaken the bonds between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K.
DUP leader Arlene Foster said, “We cannot sign up to something that would damage the Union.”
May wants to try again to get her twice-rejected Brexit deal through Parliament. Many pro-Brexit lawmakers have said they will back it, but only if the DUP agrees.
Britain’s former foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, a longtime foe of Prime Minister Theresa May’s EU divorce deal, now plans to vote for it.
Conservative lawmaker Conor Burns, an ally of Johnson’s, said the former foreign secretary told a meeting of pro-Brexit lawmakers that he would back the deal.
The shift came soon after May told Conservative Party lawmakers that she will step down if her twice-rejected deal is approved and Britain leaves the European Union. Johnson is highly likely to be a contender in any Conservative leadership contest that follows May’s departure.
Johnson is among pro-Brexit lawmakers who have opposed the deal because they think it keeps Britain too closely tied to the bloc. In a newspaper column on Wednesday, he said the deal was a “constitutional humiliation.”
Labour Party Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer tweeted: “I wonder what it is about the pending Tory leadership contest that made Boris change his mind?”
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May told lawmakers she is prepared to step down “earlier than I intended” in order to win passage of her divorce deal from the European Union.
May told lawmakers from the 1922 Committee of Conservative lawmakers that she wanted to do what was right for the country.
The comments marked the first time May signaled she was prepared to quit in order to secure the necessary votes for the passage of the Brexit divorce deal she has negotiated with the EU but which has been rejected heavily on two occasions by lawmakers.
She says, “I know there is a desire for a new approach — and new leadership — in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations, and I won’t stand in the way of that.”
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has told Conservative Party lawmakers that she will quit once the country has left the European Union — but she didn’t set a date.
Conservative lawmaker James Cartlidge told reporters as he left the 1922 Committee of Conservative lawmakers that May told the gathering “she would not remain in post for the next phase of the negotiations.”
Those will deal with Britain’s future relationship with the EU.
Britain was due to leave the EU on March 29 but May has got a short delay after her divorce deal with the EU was rejected overwhelmingly by lawmakers on two occasions.
Britain’s Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay has put down a motion to have Parliament sit on Friday — the clearest sign yet the government plans to bring Theresa May’s European Union divorce deal back for a third vote.
Lawmakers in the House of Commons can sit on Fridays if they agree to do so.
He says “while I appreciate it may cause some inconvenience, I hope all members would agree that it’s better to have it and to not need it, than to need it and not have it.”
But it remains unclear whether the measure will be proposed. Commons Speaker John Bercow said Wednesday he would not accept another vote on the twice-rejected deal unless substantial changes were made.
British lawmakers will get to vote on eight widely differing options for the U.K.’s departure from the European Union.
House of Commons Speaker John Bercow selected the motions on Wednesday from 16 proposals submitted by lawmakers.
The ones to be considered include calls to leave the EU without a withdrawal deal, to stay in the EU’s customs union and single market, to put any EU divorce deal to a public referendum, and to cancel Brexit if the prospect of a no-deal Brexit gets close.
The “indicative votes” are intended to reveal if any kind of Brexit plan can command a majority in Parliament. Lawmakers have twice rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the bloc.
The government has promised to consider the outcome of the votes, but not to be bound by them.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has faced more calls to resign during a bruising question-and-answer session in the House of Commons.
Before a vote by lawmakers on alternatives to May’s twice-rejected Brexit deal, opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn accused May of being “unable to compromise and unable to reunite the country.” He told her she must “either listen and change course or go.”
May is also facing calls from inside her Conservative Party to quit so that another leader can take over the next stage of Brexit negotiations. She is due to meet Conservative backbenchers later Wednesday.
Asked whether she would be resigning in order to get her Brexit deal approved, May said: “It is my sense of responsibility and duty that has meant I have kept working to ensure Brexit is delivered.”
The leader of the House of Commons says Britain’s government still hopes to bring Prime Minister Theresa May’s European Union divorce deal back to Parliament for a vote this week.
Andrea Leadsom told the BBC on Wednesday that there is a “real possibility” the agreement will be considered on Thursday or Friday.
She says “we’re completely determined to make sure that we can get enough support to bring it back.” She added that the deal is the only way to guarantee Britain leaves the EU.
Some opponents say they may now vote for the deal amid fears parliamentary deadlock will lead to Brexit being delayed or abandoned.
Brexit supporter Jacob Rees-Mogg says May’s deal is still a bad one, but “the risk is, if I don’t back it, we don’t leave the EU at all.”
The chief of the European Union’s Council says the bloc should be open to welcome Britain at the European Parliament’s May 23-26 election even as it prepares to leave.
Referring to recent protests and petitions by pro-EU groups in Britain, EU Council President Donald Tusk told legislators Wednesday: “They may feel they are not sufficiently represented by the UK parliament but they must feel that are represented by you in this chamber. Because they are Europeans.”
He said it is “unacceptable” to think, as some do, that Britain should not take part in EU business as the country prepares to leave.
“You cannot betray the 6 million people who signed a petition to revoke Article 50 — the one million people who marched for a people’s vote or the increasing majority of people who want to remain in the European Union.”
British lawmakers are preparing to vote on alternatives for leaving the European Union as they seek to end an impasse following the overwhelming defeat of the deal negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May.
The House of Commons is scheduled to debate the various alternatives Wednesday, after which lawmakers will be asked to vote for all of the options they could accept. The most popular ideas will move to a second vote on Monday in hopes of finding one option that can command a majority.
The debate comes two days after lawmakers took control of the parliamentary agenda away from the government amid concern May was unwilling to compromise.
May has said she will consider the outcome of the “indicative votes,” though she has refused to be bound by the result.
Follow AP’s full coverage of Brexit at: https://www.apnews.com/Brexit
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