RECAP: UK parliament votes to reject a no-deal Brexit under any circumstances

Author thumbnail
Alex Macbeth - [email protected]
RECAP: UK parliament votes to reject a no-deal Brexit under any circumstances
What do you all want? British Prime Minister Theresa May listens to the debate in the House of Commons today. Photo: AFP.

The UK House of Commons has ruled out a no-deal Brexit in a tense and close vote. Find out what happens next by following our LIVE blog on another crucial evening in Westminster.


NB: You will need to refresh the page manually to get regular updates

Main info:

  • MPs reject no-deal exit by majority of 43 votes
  • Today's vote on a no-deal follows yesterday's rejection of Theresa May's deal to leave the EU by a majority of 149 MPs
  • European business and political leaders continue to warn of the downsides of a no-deal Brexit
  • Citizens' rights groups say it is more important than ever to ring-fence the rights of 4.5 million EU and UK citizens caught on the front lines of the negotiations
  • German chamber of commerce: "The Gordian Brexit knot remains unresolved"
  • Rights activist:  "We call on the EU and the UK to ring-fence the citizens' rights part of the withdrawal agreement now" (18:48)
  • "It is impossible to understand Brexit without taking into account the conjunction of three factors. A nationalism that advocates the withdrawal from the exaltation of myths and false nostalgia, the advance of the extreme right and the simplification of democracy around the figure of the referendum as a tool from which to offer simple answers to complex problems," wrote Spanish PM Sanchez in an editorial in Spain (20:10)
  • EU Commission: "The Withdrawal Agreement is the best and only possible solution" (20:57)

After last night's crushing defeat in which Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement was rejected once again by a large majority of MPs the UK lower house has ruled out leaving the EU without a deal, under any circumstance and at any time (via the so-called Spelman amendment). 

Theresa May is now expected to seek an extension to Article 50, the two-year window to agree a future framework for a departing member state, from the EU. 

Having yesterday overwhelmingly rejected Theresa May's deal to leave the EU, MPs have now voted to never leave without a deal. Such is the sinuous logic of the Brexit process. 

That's all from us tonight, we'll be back tomorrow. 

21:16 PM May sets March 20th as deadline to vote on her deal

The motion for tomorrow has set next Wednesday March 20th as a deadline to vote on the current deal. The final scheduled EU summit before the UK's currently scheduled departure from the EU (March 29th) is on March 21st-22nd. 

21:06 EU Commission apparently reiterates (post-vote): "To take no-deal off the table, you have to agree a deal"

20:57 The EU Commission today again rejected the possibility of an alternative deal

If anyone is hoping for a different deal to leave the EU, the EU's institutions are insisting one is not possible. 

20:55 Theresa May speaks

"The legal default in UK and EU law remains that the UK will leave the EU without a deal unless something else is agreed. The onus on everybody in this house is to find out what that is," says PM May. The options are the same: vote for her deal, hold a second referendum (which would "damage the fragile trust between the British public and this house" or negotiate a new deal, which she acknowledges the EU is reluctant to do. She has lost her voice and again sounds like she swallowed all 500+ pages of her deal. 

"An extension to Article 50" will be held tomorrow. An extension is only likely if we have a deal in place, adds PM May. She suggests there will need to be a longer, rather than shorter extension. She acknowledges that would mean the UK holding EU parliamentary elections. "I do not think that would be the right outcome," adds the PM. 

20:53 MPs vote to reject a no-deal exit from the EU

A majority of 43 MPs has confirmed its desire to not leave the EU without a framework for future cooperation. The ayes 321; the noes 278. The prime minister speaks. 

20:39 MPs are now voting on the main motion (whether to leave without a deal)

In usual Groundhog Day Brexit logic, MPs will now vote again on whether to leave without a deal: the first vote was only an amendment, this is a main motion. Both votes are effectively on the same thing, although some MPs might have changed their mind in the last 20 minutes. Brexit is complex like that. 

20:36 Amendment seeking brief extension and longer transition rejected

The second amendment, the Malthouse compromise, seeking the brief extension and the longer transition (ensuring Brexit happens basically) has been rejected by a majority of 210 MPs. 

20:33 No-deal remains the default, despite MPs voting against it

The UK parliament may well have rejected a no-deal, but it takes two to tango (or extend Article 50) and it remains to be seen what the EU has to say about the matter. The UK can revoke Article 50 unilaterally, but it cannot extend it unless the EU agrees. The Spelman amendment that rules out a no-deal is also not legally binding. PM May can choose to ignore it, if she so wishes. 

At the moment, the UK is still set to leave the EU without a deal on March 29th. If you are confused about how all this works, Theresa May looks likes she is too.

20:28 MPs vote on amendment seeking brief extension to Article 50 but longer transition period

MPs have just voted on the second amendment in tonight's proceedings. This one seeks an extension to Article 50 until May 22nd this year (the day before the EU parliamentary elections begin) and a transition period in which the UK would remain a paid-up member of the EU until "no later" than 31st December 2021. 

20:20 MPs rule out no-deal Brexit by tiny majority of 4!

The ayes were 308, the noes 304. So the Spelman Amendment, which rules out a no-deal exit at any time and in any circumstances, has been passed. 

20:10 The view from Spain: "The Spanish people are ready for any scenario"

"We, the Spanish people, are ready for any scenario, with or without a deal," Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez wrote in an editorial in the Madrid-based daily El Pais. 

"It is impossible to understand Brexit without taking into account the conjunction of three factors. A nationalism that advocates the withdrawal from the exaltation of myths and false nostalgia, the advance of the extreme right and the simplification of democracy around the figure of the referendum as a tool from which to offer simple answers to complex problems," wrote PM Sanchez. 

20:04 MPs vote on rejecting no-deal forever amendment

MPs are now voting on the the so-called Spelman amendment, which seeks to remove any possibility of a no-deal Brexit under any circumstances. 

20:00 Ireland bracing itself for no deal

The Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has pledged to protect Irish businesses if there is a no-deal. 

19:56 Brexit is getting a laugh at Brussels airport at least

The UK might be struggling to come to an agreement, but the age-old friendship between Brits and their counterparts across The Channel remains strong, as British in Europe's spokeswoman Laura Shields notes.

19:53 Tonight's two amendments to be voted on

Two amendments will be voted on to the prime minister's no-deal motion. The first seeks to completely rule out a no-deal Brexit for ever; the second, known as the Malthouse compromise, asks Theresa May to seek a delay to Article 50 until May 22nd if a no-deal is approved, followed by a two-year transition period. 

19:48 Ferocious debate in House of Commons continues

MPs continue to debate the pros and cons of a no-deal, with some suggesting it'll propel Britain into a a glorious new economic era while others predict chaos and recession. You can follow the debate in Parliament below. 

19:45 EU Commission stepping up no-deal preparations 

Since mid-2018, the EU Commission has begun to take the prospect of a no-deal more seriously, exponentially publishing more and more warnings to businesses and citizens. It has published 19 directives (according to French daily Le Monde) or pieces of legislation designed to mediate a no-deal so far. 

19:40 Rights group British in Europe: "Only 17 days to go until 29 March and people still don’t know what their status will be"

A no-deal Brexit, if approved tonight, would leave millions of UK and EU citizens with a threadbare package of rights in the countries they have opted to live in. UK citizens will lose freedom of movement and in many cases, the lifelong right to remain. Many other rights will be lost under current legislative proposals by EU member states designed to protect the rights of UK nationals in the EU for example. 

19:34 What happens to Britons in Europe if there is no deal?

If the UK does leave the EU without a deal, the 1.2 million (or more) British citizens living in the EU will depend on legislations from their host states to protect their rights. Malta is offering the most generous deal, but what are other EU states saying? Find out all the details below.

READ ALSO: No-deal Brexit: Which EU member state is being the most generous to Britons?

READ ALSO: No-deal Brexit: Country by country guide to how the rights of Britons will be affected

19:21 UK child's letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk: "I think we should be friends"

If all goes wrong, the UK has a burgeoning new negotiator. 

19:07 The view from Denmark on how a no-deal would affect the Scandinavian country's businesses and labour force

Danish PM Rasmussen initially tweeted his sadness at yesterday's defeat of May's deal. He followed that up with the deal below. 

My colleagues at The Local Denmark have looked into the effects a no-deal would have on Denmark.

READ ALSO: No-deal Brexit could cost Denmark billions, companies looking at alternative markets: ministry 

19:05: What's at stake for each EU state with a no-deal?

Most EU countries that export to the UK are keen to avoid a hard Brexit – a UK exit from the European Union without a deal – at all costs. From Spanish fruit and veg growers, to Dutch and Danish fresh food exporters; Italian food firms or Polish meat exporters, a no-deal Brexit would considerably affect EU-UK trade. France has told firms to look for alternatives to BritainCalais is struggling to adapt. 

German firms would have to pay more than three billion euros in customs duties in the case of a hard Brexit, and UK-EU trade could be halved, a report by the Cologne-based German Economic Institute (IW) estimated in October 2018. More details at The Local Germany below.

READ ALSO: 'Horror scenario': How Brexit could affect Germany

18:56 "We remain united until the end of this extraordinary negotiation": Barnier

Is the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier suggesting there is still space to negotiate?

18:48 "UK political actors need to be aware of the implications of their actions"

If the UK does opt to leave without a deal, it is sure to be a scenario that will upset a lot of people, not least 4.5 million EUinUK and UKinEU citizens whose rights would be left at the mercy of host states, as supposed to protected by an agreement.  

"No deal is a disaster which is why once again we call on the EU and the UK to ring-fence the citizens' rights part of the withdrawal agreement now, before it's too late to take real people's lives' off the negotiating table’. It’s about our fundamental rights and the promises that were made to us," Kalba Meadows, coordinator of Remain in France Together, told The Local.

EU businesses have adamantly expressed their opposition to the no-deal option on the table for tonight's vote. 

"UK political actors need to be aware of the implications of their actions" said the German Association of the Automotive Industry in a statement after yesterday's vote. 

Theresa May (L) and Michael Gove listen to an interjection during a debate in the House of Commons in London on March 13, 2019. Photo: AFP. 

18:32 "The Gordian Brexit knot remain unresolved": German business leader

"The decision of the British House of Commons is a bitter disappointment from an economic point of view. The danger of unregulated withdrawal from the EU and the associated economic and legal uncertainty continues to hover over the economy. In addition to significant new Brexit bureaucracy, the demolition of supply chains and a breakdown of "just-in-time" productions in the UK are threatening," Eric Schweitzer, president of the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said in a statement.

In addition, more than 10 million customs declarations and several billion euros in customs duties would be due annually for German companies. The companies still have no planning certainty in the UK business. Therefore, companies should prepare now at the latest on the basis of the DIHK Brexit checklist. Unfortunately, the Gordian Brexit knot remains unresolved," added Schweitzer.  

You can read more reactions to yesterday's vote below. 

READ ALSO: RECAP: 'We've taken a step further into uncertainty on our rights': UK nationals in EU react to May's defeat



Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also