London, United Kingdom | AFP | British MPs on Tuesday voted on a series of amendments seeking to show what they want as Brexit approaches on March 29, with Britain currently on course to crash out of the EU without a withdrawal deal.
Earlier this month, they rejected the agreement Prime Minister Theresa May struck with the European Union late last year.
Now they have sent her back to Brussels to renegotiate — and said they do not want Britain to leave the EU with no deal.
– What do they want?
GO BACK TO BRUSSELS
MPs backed an amendment by 317 votes to 301 that offers support for May’s deal if she can remove the “backstop” arrangement intended to keep open Britain’s border with Ireland.
The proposal from senior Conservative MP Graham Brady calls instead for “alternative arrangements” to avoid border checks.
Speaking before the vote, May said the amendment would give her a mandate to return to Brussels and negotiate a “significant and legally binding change” to the Brexit deal.
The vote united her Conservative party and their Northern Irish allies.
MPs have called previously for a unilateral exit clause from the backstop, or a time limit — both ideas rejected by the EU.
May emphasised she remained committed to avoiding any new border checks in Ireland.
RULE OUT ‘NO DEAL’ BREXIT
MPs voted by 318 to 310 to support an amendment by Conservative MP Caroline Spelman rejecting the possibility that Britain leaves the European Union with no deal.
It is not legally binding but has political weight.
Speaking before the votes, May told MPs: “I, too, want to avoid leaving with no deal.”
But she said the amendment “is missing the other half of the equation, for unless we are to end up with no Brexit at all, the only way to avoid no deal is to agree a deal”.
– Which amendments failed?
MPs voted by 321 to 298 to reject a cross-party amendment which sought to delay Brexit to stop Britain leaving with no deal on March 29.
Presented by Labour MP Yvette Cooper, it would have cleared the Commons timetable on February 5 for a debate on a law to delay, if the government failed to agree a Brexit deal by February 26.
MPs also rejected by 327 votes to 296 an amendment by opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn demanding parliamentary time to vote on how “no deal” might be avoided.
He had offered two options: renegotiate a new UK-EU customs union and a “strong relationship” with the EU’s single market, or hold a second referendum.
Another amendment from former Conservative minister Dominic Grieve, which would have allowed MPs to express their will in a series of votes right up to Brexit day, was also defeated by 321 votes to 301.
– Is that it? –
The government has promised another vote on its Brexit deal as soon as possible.
May said on Tuesday that if she had no new deal to put to MPs before February 13, then they would be able to vote on the next steps on February 14.
Elsewhere, MPs could still seek to influence events by proposing amendments to a series of government bills that must pass parliament before Brexit day.
A growing number of ministers have also warned they will not accept a “no deal” Brexit, raising the possibility they could resign to try to stop such an outcome.