UK MPs to vote on delaying Brexit

London: British MPs will vote on Thursday whether the government should ask the EU for permission to delay the country’s withdrawal from the bloc amid an intense week of parliamentary ballots.

The new vote comes after MPs on Wednesday voted to reject a no-deal Brexit “under any circumstances”, the BBC reported.

Conservative Party Prime Minister Theresa May tabled a motion on delaying Brexit by three-months beyond the March 29 deadline as her proposed Brexit deal twice failed to get parliamentary approval. MPs also rejected the scenario of the UK leaving the EU without a deal in place.

Brexit could still go ahead on March 29 if Parliament approves May’s deal, which Brussels supports, before an EU leaders’ summit next week.

The vote in the House of Commons, the UK’s lower legislative chamber, will be held on Thursday evening. MPs are expected to request an extension of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which established a transition period of two years for a country to leave the EU.

If Parliament approves the Prime Minister’s deal by March 20, Brexit could be delayed by three months, until June 30.

But on Wednesday, May warned if her deal does not get through Parliament, a longer extension — which would need the unanimous approval of the other 27 EU member states — would be required, meaning the UK would be forced to participate in European Parliament elections in May.

“I do not think that would be the right outcome,” said May. “But the House needs to face up to the consequences of the decisions it has taken.”

European Council’s President Donald Tusk said he would urge EU leaders at the upcoming summit to back a long extension. “During my consultations ahead of the European Council, I will appeal to the EU27 to be open to a long extension if the UK finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus around it,” he wrote on Twitter.

EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told the European Parliament on Wednesday the ball was firmly in London’s court.

“It is UK’s responsibility to tell us what they want for our future relations. That is the question that needs to be posed to which we expect an answer. It will be a priority even before the question of an extension. Negotiations on Article 50 (the mechanism that laid down Britain’s departure date as March 29) are finished,” he said.

“We have agreed a deal with the Prime Minister and the EU is ready to sign it. There are only two ways to leave the EU: with or without a deal. The EU is prepared for both,” Barnier said.