Brexit

Theresa May offers vote on delaying Brexit beyond March 29 if her plan is rejected

Andrew Woodcock and David Hughes, Press Association

British prime minister Theresa May has promised to give MPs a vote on extending Brexit negotiations or withdrawing from the EU without a deal if her plan is rejected next month.

In a dramatic statement to the House of Commons, Mrs May confirmed that she will put her Withdrawal Agreement - including whatever additional assurances she has secured from Brussels - to a "meaningful vote" by March 12.

If that fails, MPs will be offered two separate votes the following day - one on a no-deal Brexit, and the other on requesting an extension to the two-year Article 50 negotiation process to delay EU withdrawal beyond March 29.

The sequence of votes will be proposed in an amendable motion tabled by the prime minister for debate and vote in the Commons on Wednesday.

Read More: Patrick Kielty claims hard Brexit will lead to border poll

To uproar in the Commons, Mrs May told MPs: "They are commitments I am making as prime minister and I will stick by them, as I have previous commitments to make statements and table amendable motions by specific dates."

Read More: Theresa May signals opposition to Article 50 extension

Ian Knox cartoon 26/2/19: Jeremy Corbyn tells Labour MPs the party will move to back another vote if their own proposed Brexit deal is rejected tomorrow. Theresa May is facing the threat of a revolt by Remain-supporting ministers as she chairs a crucial cabinet meeting on her Brexit negotiations. Chelsea goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga, refuses to come off the pitch when substituted during the Carabao Cup final 

Mrs May said the British government was publishing a paper assessing its readiness for a no-deal Brexit and the "very serious challenges" it would pose.

"I believe that if we have to, we will ultimately make a success of a no-deal," she said.

"But this paper provides an honest assessment of the very serious challenges it would bring in the short-term and further reinforces why the best way for this house to honour the referendum result is to leave with a deal."

In a statement to MPs following a Cabinet meeting with senior colleagues at 10 Downing Street, Theresa May said she wanted to set out "three further commitments" to the Commons.

She said: "First, we will hold a second meaningful vote by Tuesday March 12 at the latest.

"Second, if the government has not won a meaningful vote by Tuesday March 12, then it will - in addition to its obligations to table a neutral amendable motion under Section 13 of the EU Withdrawal Act - table a motion to be voted on by Wednesday March 13 at the latest, asking this House if it supports leaving the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement and a framework for a future relationship on March 29.

"So the United Kingdom will only leave without a deal on March 29 if there is explicit consent in the House for that outcome.

"Third, if the House, having rejected the deal negotiated with the EU, then rejects leaving on March 29 without a Withdrawal Agreement and future framework, the government will on March 14 bring forward a motion on whether parliament wants to seek a short, limited extension to Article 50."

If MPs vote for an extension, the government will "seek to agree that extension approved by the house with the EU, and bring forward the necessary legislation to change the exit date commensurate with that extension", said Mrs May.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he had "lost count" of the prime minister's explanations for her "grotesquely reckless" delays.

He said: "I have lost count of the number of times the prime minister has come to this house to explain a further delay.

"They say history repeats itself, first time as tragedy, second time as farce, by the umpteenth time it can only be described as grotesquely reckless."

Mrs May hit out at Mr Corbyn over Labour's support for a second referendum.

"He has gone back on his promise to respect the referendum result and now wants to hold a divisive second referendum that would take our country right back to square one," she said.

"Anyone who voted Labour at the last election because they thought he would deliver Brexit will rightly be appalled. "

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