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Brexit
March 21, 2019

European Union leaders on Thursday offered the United Kingdom additional time to leave the bloc, delaying Brexit until May 22 if British lawmakers agree to Prime Minister Theresa May's withdrawal deal.

If not, the EU will accept a delay until April 12. The U.K. was previously set to leave the bloc on March 29.

Britain's Parliament has twice shot down May's EU deal, with lawmakers split on how to leave the EU and whether they should do so at all. "I will make every effort to make sure we can leave with a deal and move our country forward," May said. Catherine Garcia

March 13, 2019

It was a chaotic series of events at Westminster on Wednesday, as the British Parliament ultimately agreed to rule out a no-deal Brexit after three separate votes.

The first vote resulted in a much narrower outcome than Tuesday's lopsided vote to strike down Prime Minister Theresa May's withdrawal agreement: British parliament decided on Wednesday to rule out a "no-deal" Brexit at any point by a mere four votes — 312 to 308.

Members of Parliament also voted on Wednesday to reject the Malthouse Amendment, which called on the government to pursue a "managed" no-deal on May 22. That is, a withdrawal from the EU without a legitimate agreement, but one that allowed for a grace period to minimize disruption. There was a much clearer majority in this motion, with "no" votes tallying 374, to just 164 in favor.

The final vote was essentially a re-run of the first vote in light of the amendment vote. While the overall result remained the same, the defeat was much clearer with the margin rising to 43.

Wednesday's votes, it's worth noting, are not legally binding — the U.K. could very well still leave the European Union without a deal, unless separate legislation is passed, The Guardian reports. Instead it means that MPs will now have the opportunity to, you guessed it, vote again tomorrow, which May confirmed. That vote will be to see whether article 50, which currently triggers the U.K.'s departure on March 29, will be delayed, though the EU will also have to agree to the extension. Tim O'Donnell

March 12, 2019

As expected, Parliament voted against British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit withdrawal plan for the second time on Tuesday.

The "no" vote won by a hearty margin — 391 to 242, forcing another parliamentary vote on Wednesday on whether to back a "no-deal" Brexit. Wednesday's vote will be a free vote for the Conservative Party — that is, members will vote according to their conscience rather than on party lines.

May said that although it's crucial that the U.K. secures a deal, she is committed to honoring the 2016 referendum. Therefore, the default remains that the U.K. will leave the European Union without a deal regarding new trade practices.

If members of Parliament vote against a "no-deal" Brexit, then there will be yet another vote on Thursday, in which MPs will vote to extend article 50, which all of Parliament hopes to avoid.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Ian Blackford, the Scottish Nationalist Party leader at Westminster, said that May's second defeat was grounds for a general election and a second Brexit referendum, respectively. Tim O'Donnell

March 12, 2019

Despite winning a last-minute, legally binding concession from the European Union on Monday evening, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is still likely to lose a parliamentary vote on her Brexit plan on Tuesday.

May struck the agreement with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at a meeting in France on Monday night, guaranteeing that the Irish border backstop, which would keep the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland open, would be a temporary measure, meaning that the U.K. will not be tied to EU customs regulations "indefinitely." But the deal was not enough to sway some of the more Euroskeptic parties in Britain's parliament.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), a conservative, pro-Brexit party from Northern Ireland that props up May's government, announced on Tuesday that all 10 of its members would vote against the deal, striking a crucial blow for May. The DUP released a statement saying that "sufficient progress has not been achieved" in negotiations with the EU. May, for her part, argued on Tuesday that supporting her withdrawal agreement is the only way to ensure avoiding a "no-deal" Brexit.

The Financial Times reported that without the DUP "there would seem to be no way that" most other conservative holdouts would swing toward May, though a few conservative "rebels" have, indeed, provided some hope for the prime minister. But those votes are not expected to be nearly enough to secure a victory. The Guardian echoed that sentiment, reporting that unless there is "an avalanche" of vote-switching, May will almost assuredly lose. Tim O'Donnell

February 20, 2019

Brexit isn't the only political crisis tearing the U.K.'s Parliament apart.

Three Conservative and eight Labour members of Parliament have left their parties in the past few days, and they have a surprisingly unified reason, BBC reports. All the defectors are fed up with Brexit proceedings and how their parties are being run, so they're coming together under a newly formed Independent Party.

Britain voted in June 2016 to leave the European Union, but just how that's happening has been a total mystery ever since. Parliament hasn't confirmed a Brexit deal with the EU, it doesn't really want a Brexit with no deal, and it hasn't opted for a referendum on the entire thing. Prime Minister Theresa May has just barely retained her seat through it all.

The leadership crisis has spanned both major parties, with seven Labour MPs first announcing their resignation from the party on Monday, CNN says. One defector, Luciana Berger, cited anti-Semitism within the party and said it had been "hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left." Joan Ryan, an eighth Labour defector, joined the new Independent Group on Tuesday. And on Wednesday, three Conservatives joined the Independents on account of "this government's disastrous handling of Brexit," they said in a letter to May.

The 11-member, centrist party is already united under the premise of fixing a "broken" political system, per its Twitter. The Labour Party is now seemingly worried about losing more MPs, as staffers lost access to voter rolls Wednesday, per The Guardian. Kathryn Krawczyk

January 14, 2019

British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plan goes up for a key vote in Parliament on Tuesday, and as it is widely expected to be rejected, she is making a last-ditch case Monday for her proposal to separate from the European Union. May is telling factory workers on Monday that if her plan fails, it is more likely that Parliament will scrap Brexit entirely rather than let the U.K. leave with no deal; with a deal, ties with the EU would be severed immediately on March 29, along with Britain's existing trade deals, leaving uncertainty if not chaos.

A significant number of Brexit supporters now argue a "no deal" Brexit is the best option. Brexit opponents are hoping to force a second referendum or, according to one plan being floated, let Parliament take control of the Brexit process. There are those in Parliament "who would wish to delay or even stop Brexit and who will use every device available to them to do so," May warned. And if they succeed, "people's faith in the democratic process and their politicians would suffer catastrophic harm. We all have a duty to implement the result of the referendum."

The opposition Labour Party will vote against the deal, joined by about 100 members of May's Conservative Party and the 10 members of the Democratic Unionist Party. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said if May's plan fails, his party will set in motion a vote of no confidence in her government in a bid to force new elections. More immediately, rejection of May's EU divorce plan would give her three days to propose a Plan B, and she's likely to head to Brussels on Wednesday to try to wrest more concessions from the EU before a Jan. 21 vote on her fallback plan. Peter Weber

December 11, 2018

British Prime Minister Theresa May traveled to the Netherlands on Tuesday in a bid to salvage her deal on Britain's exit from the European Union, reports The Associated Press.

May on Monday postponed a crucial parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal with the EU, saying it faced rejection. May is seeking concessions from European leaders, including on the question of how to keep goods flowing across the border of Northern Ireland in the U.K. and EU-member Ireland. British lawmakers want flexibility on that issue, a key sticking point.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned that there was "no room whatsoever for renegotiation," but there is "room enough for clarification and further interpretations. The apparent impasse left no clear path forward for May's government ahead of the U.K.'s scheduled March exit from the European trading bloc.

The prime minister met with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the Netherlands, traveled to Germany to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel, and huddled with Juncker and EU Council President Donald Tusk in Brussels. Read more at The Associated Press. The Week Staff

December 10, 2018

On Tuesday, Britain's House of Commons is scheduled to vote on, and expected to reject, Prime Minister Theresa May's negotiated Brexit plan, throwing Britain's exit from the European Union into further uncharted waters. On Monday morning, the European Court of Justice, the EU's top court, answered one unresolved Brexit question, ruling that if Britain so desires, it can unilaterally cancel its divorce any time before it becomes final on March 29, 2019 — or during any extension to that exit date. Revoking the Article 50 exit clause would have to "follow a democratic process," the court ruled, meaning that in Britain, Parliament would have to approve calling off Brexit.

The ECJ issued its ruling in response to a question from a group of anti-Brexit U.K. politicians, and the court said Monday that its aim is to "clarify the options open to MPs" before they vote on Tuesday. The upshot is that staying in the EU is now "a real, viable option," BBC Brussels correspondent Adam Fleming notes, cautioning that "a lot would have to change in British politics" for Brexit to be actually called off.

Assuming lawmakers rejected May's proposal, Parliament could "follow a number of different courses of action, including backing a Norway-type deal or amendments that make significant changes made to the backstop agreement — the insurance policy that prevents a hard border in Ireland," Laura Silver says at BuzzFeed News. "The defeat would also pave the way to a second referendum on leaving the EU, which has already been discussed in Downing Street. It is unclear whether or not remaining in the EU entirely would be an option on the ballot paper." Peter Weber

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