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UK government plans third Brexit vote Friday – DW (English)

The British government said Thursday that it intended to hold a third parliamentary vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal on Friday.

The UK Parliament has struggled to find a way forward after twice rejecting May’s deal, but it has also failed to reach a majority in favor of an alternative plan.

Where Brexit stands right now

  • The government says it is awaiting the go-ahead from House of Commons speaker John Bercow, who blocked a previous attempt to hold another vote on the deal.
  • Last week, Bercow said another vote on the deal could only be held if it was different to the one that members of parliament have already rejected.
  • The EU has agreed to put Brexit on hold until May 22 if the deal is approved this week.
  • If Parliament cannot agree upon any kind of deal, the UK would crash out of the EU with no deal on April 12.

What’s the government said?

The government admitted that it could not yet guarantee that the vote would go ahead.

“We recognise that any motion brought forward tomorrow will need to be compliant with the speaker’s ruling and that discussion is ongoing,” Andrea Leadsom, who is the government’s representative in the Commons, told MPs.

Read more: EU completes no-deal Brexit preparations

Leadsom pointed out that leaders at an EU summit last week had granted an extension provided that the deal was agreed this week — by the deadline on which Britain was originally supposed to leave.

“The only way we ensure we leave in good time on May 22 is by approving the withdrawal agreement by 11 p.m. on March 29,” she said.

Third time lucky?

To get her twice-defeated deal through Parliament, May will need to win over at least 75 MPs.

May is banking on increased support from her own MPs, but there still appears to be some resistance within the Conservative Party.

When parliament voted on alternative Brexit options on Wednesday, 93 of May’s Tory lawmakers voted against delaying the March 29 Brexit date. In a vote on whether to leave with no deal, 157 Conservatives defied the government by voting in favor.

Read more: Brexit: In multicultural east London, locals look to future with fear

At least 20 Conservative rebels have indicated they would now support her deal, including leading Brexit figureheads Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg. However, about 15 reportedly said they would never support the deal, making May’s chance of getting the deal approved all the more elusive.

DUP says no

The votes of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which has 10 MPs and props up May’s minority Conservative government, could prove crucial.

The DUP says it is unwilling to vote for the deal, which it claims would potentially split Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK as part of the EU Customs Union.

The opposition Labour Party, the second-largest group in Parliament, is unlikely to vote en-masse for the deal as it stands, although three Labour lawmakers did vote for it last time.

Read more: Stop Brexit: Millions sign petition to British government

So are there any alternatives?

MPs on Wednesday rejected eight non-binding motions on alternatives to May’s Brexit deal after a move to wrest control of the parliamentary agenda from the government.

Read more: German press: ‘Endless soap called Brexit’

A second round of votes to find a Brexit plan with majority backing, with the number of options whittled down, is planned for Monday.

The idea of staying in a customs union with the EU came closest to winning a majority, with 264 voting in favor and 272 against. The most popular option was to hold a second referendum for any deal approved by parliament, backed by 268 but opposed by 295.

Both ideas got more support than the 242 votes secured by May’s Brexit deal earlier this month.

rc/rt (AFP Reuters)

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UK government plans third Brexit vote Friday – DW (English)

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