Britain’s parliament strongly rejects Theresa May's Brexit divorce deal

Juncker on Monday night said there will be "no third chance" for a Brexit deal if MPs vote the current version down on Tuesday.

Lawmakers rejected the deal in a 391-242 vote, ignoring May's entreaties to back the agreement and end the political chaos and economic uncertainty that Brexit has unleashed.

The UK is set to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019 after a referendum in which the public voted to leave by almost 52 percent to 48 percent - 17.4m votes to 16.1m - in 2016.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

Britain's attorney general punctured Prime Minister Theresa May's hopes of winning backing for her Brexit deal Tuesday, saying last-minute changes secured from the European Union didn't give Britain the power to cut itself free of ties to the bloc.

His advice suggests that many lawmakers who have opposed May's deal are unlikely to change the way they vote in Parliament later.

Hard-core Brexit supporters in Ms May's Conservative Party and the prime minister's allies in Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party both said they could not support the deal.

"It is now for the House of Commons to take an important set of decisions this week", Schinas said.

A deal might not happen at all, if Parliament still delivers a no on Tuesday's vote on the withdrawal plan.

Both Keir Starmer, the opposition Labour Party's Brexit spokesman, and Conservative lawmaker Dominic Grieve expressed skepticism about whether May had won substantive concessions.


One of the biggest sticking points in January was the so-called "backstop" to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit. However, the text of the 585-page withdrawal agreement remained unchanged. That was less than the record 230-vote margin she suffered in January, but still a resounding repudiation of two years of painstaking work.

The attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, published his legal opinion on the new documents saying that they did not fully eliminate the risk of the United Kingdom getting stuck in the backstop.

"We held talks over the weekend and the negotiations now are between the government in London and the parliament in London", Barnier said in Brussels ahead of Brexit discussions with envoys from the other 27 member states.

Supporters of Brexit say that while the divorce might bring some short-term instability, in the longer term it will allow the United Kingdom to thrive and also enable deeper European Union integration without such a powerful reluctant member. Another Brexiteer, Owen Paterson, tweeted that Cox's opinion made it "brutally clear" that nothing had changed.

Also speaking at the press conference, May said that the latest agreement is legally binding, just like the withdrawal agreement. "The government's strategy is now in tatters".

The pound, which had risen on hopes the deal would be passed, slumped by more than 1 percent against the U.S. dollar after Mr Cox's assessment, to trade at $1.3108 (AUS$1.84). "There is no alternative".

Ms May had hoped that revisions to a Brexit deal over the Irish backstop, or protocol, secured late on Monday would offer enough assurances to get her deal through parliament.

"So, I think then you get into one of the only options is the prime minister collapses the House of Commons". It is what you do with this second chance that counts.

"He has put forward constructive additions, now we wait for a credible response from the United Kingdom to ensure an orderly Brexit", he said on Saturday. Parliament could also consider a second national referendum, effectively asking Britons again if they want to leave the 28-member group.

  • Tracy Klein