UK MPs seize control of Brexit process

London: British MPs have inflicted a fresh humiliating defeat on Prime Minister Theresa May, after voting to temporarily seize control of the Brexit process, allowing back-benchers to hold a series of votes on alternatives to her deal.

An amendment tabled by former Conservative Minister Oliver Letwin was passed by 329 votes to 302 on Monday as MPs expressed exasperation at the government’s failure to set out a fresh approach for the UK to exit the European Union (EU), reports the Guardian.

After the amendment, the government in a statement warned that it “upends the balance between our democratic institutions and sets a dangerous, unpredictable precedent for the future”.

Three ministers — Foreign Affairs Minister Alistair Burt, Health Minister Steve Brine and Business Minister Richard Harrington — resigned to back the Letwin amendment. Thirty Conservative MPs rebelled to vote for the amendment.

Harrington accused the government of “playing roulette with the lives and livelihoods of the vast majority of people in this country” in his resignation letter.

In a series of so-called indicative votes, MPs will be able to vote on a number of options — likely to include a “softer Brexit”, a Customs union with the EU and another referendum — designed to test the will of Parliament to see what, if anything, commands a majority, the BBC said.

But the precise format of votes and how they will work was not set out in the amendment.

Parliament is also expected to pass a law this week postponing the Brexit date from March 29.

Speaking after Monday’s votes, opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn congratulated Parliament for “taking control” of the Brexit process, CNN reported. “The government’s approach has been an abject failure and this House must now find a solution,” Corbyn said.

May, still hoping of getting her twice-rejected Brexit deal passed, told the House of Commons earlier in the day there was not enough support for her deal to bring it back for a third meaningful vote.

The Prime Minister also said she could not “commit the government to delivering the outcome of any votes held by this House. But I do commit to engaging constructively with this process”.

Britain is scheduled to crash out of the EU on April 12 if May’s withdrawal deal is not passed and the UK government fails to provide new proposals for a way out of the impasse.

In response to the development, the European Commission said it has prepared for an “increasingly likely” no-deal scenario.