Updated | UK MPs reject May's EU withdrawal agreement for a third time

MPs reject Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement by 344 votes to 286, throwing UK’s Brexit plans into more confusion • European Council President Donald Tusk calls council meeting for 10 April

MPs reject May's EU withdrawal agreement
MPs reject May's EU withdrawal agreement

MPs have rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal for a third time, by 344 votes to 286, despite the prime minister’s offer to her Tory colleagues that she would resign if it passed.

In a tweet immediately after the House of Commons vote, European Council President Donald Tusk said he would be convening the council on 10 April. "In view of the rejection of the Withdrawal Agreement by the House of Commons, I have decided to call a European Council on 10 April," Tusk wrote. 

A string of Brexit-backing Conservative backbenchers who had rejected the deal in the first two meaningful votes, including the former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, switched sides during the debate, to support the agreement.

But with Labour unwilling to change its position, and the Democratic Unionist party’s 10 MPs determined not to support it, it was not enough to secure a majority for the prime minister.

May had asked Labour MPs to support the withdrawal agreement, saying it was the only way to “guarantee Brexit” and avoid a “cliff edge” in two weeks.

Jeremy Corbyn accused May of offering Britain a “half-baked Brexit” which Labour could not support.

The vote was held on the day when Britain was meant to be leaving the European Union.

It was not a third “meaningful vote”, as MPs were only asked to consider the withdrawal agreement, which includes the controversial Irish backstop and secures EU citizens’ rights and the post-Brexit transition period.

Under the deal agreed by EU leaders in Brussels last week, Brexit was to be delayed until 22 May if the prime minister could win parliament’s backing for the withdrawal agreement this week.

Instead, she will now have to return to Brussels before 12 April to ask for a longer delay, requiring Britain to hold European elections in May or accept a no-deal Brexit.

MPs are due to hold another series of “indicative votes” on Monday, a process initiated by a cross-party group of backbenchers led by Oliver Letwin, in a bid to find a majority in the House of Commons for some way out of the impasse.

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