British MPs on Thursday voted massively in favour of asking the EU to delay Brexit and holding a new vote soon on a divorce deal they have already rejected twice.
Parliament voted by 412 in favour and 202 against on the government’s proposal - a rare respite for prime minister Theresa May following a chaotic week, reports AFP.
British prime minister May’s authority hit an all-time low this week after a series of parliamentary defeats and rebellions.
That deal, struck by May after two-and-a-half years of negotiations with the EU, was defeated heavily in parliament in January and again on Tuesday.
Britons voted by 52-48 per cent in a 2016 referendum to leave the EU, a decision that has not only divided the main political parties but also exposed deep rifts in British society, reports Reuters.
Although parliament on Wednesday voted against the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, the default position if nothing else is agreed remains that Britain will exit on March 29 without a transition arrangement.
Business leaders warn that this would cause chaos. Brexit supporters say that, in the longer term, it would allow Britain to forge trade deals across the world and thrive.
May’s spokesman said she would put her deal to another vote ‘if it was felt that it were worthwhile’.
European Union leaders meeting next Thursday - who would need to approve any extension - will consider pressing Britain to delay Brexit by at least a year, European Council president Donald Tusk said.
‘I will appeal to the EU27 (remaining members) to be open to a long extension if the UK finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus around it,’ he said.
France said that a short Brexit delay merely to discuss May’s existing deal was ‘out of the question’.
But there was no sign that the prospect of a long delay - which could lead to Britain keeping closer ties to the EU than May had planned, or even a second Brexit referendum - was causing a major shift in the views of hardline eurosceptics in her Conservative Party who have so far thwarted her.
Lawmaker Andrew Bridgen accused her of pursuing a ‘scorched earth’ policy of destroying all other Brexit options to leave lawmakers with a choice between her deal and a long delay.
Meanwhile, US president Donald Trump on Thursday criticised British prime minister Theresa May’s handling of the Brexit talks for Britain’s departure from the European Union and said another referendum on the issue would be unfair to the side that won.
Trump, who met May last summer at Blenheim Palace, England, said he had given her his ideas on how to handle the negotiation on Britain’s break from the European Union but that she had not taken his advice.
‘I will tell you, I’m surprised at how badly it’s all gone from the standpoint of a negotiation,’ Trump told reporters in the Oval Office as he met Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar.
‘But I gave the prime minister my ideas on how to negotiate it and I think you would have been successful. She didn’t listen to that, and that’s fine. I mean ... she’s got to do what she’s got to do. But I think it could have been negotiated in a different manner, frankly.’
Trump said he planned to stay out of the negotiations.
He also said another vote on Brexit would be unfair, and reiterated that he would like to see a US trade deal with the United Kingdom after it leaves the EU.
‘I hate to see it being, everything being ripped apart right now. I don’t think another vote would be possible because it would be very unfair to the people that won,’ Trump said.
Varadkar, sitting alongside Trump at the White House, said he looked forward to discussing Brexit with Trump and that he would like to see a European trade deal with the United States.
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