March 29 (UPI) — British lawmakers rejected for a third time Friday Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposal to leave the European Union, this time foiling an option to extend the departure deadline to late May.
The House of Commons voted 344-286 to decline the withdrawal agreement.
May called the impact of the vote “grave,” but said the government will keep working for an orderly exit instead of leaving with no deal.
“I fear we are reaching the limits of this process in this house,” she said.
May promised this week to step down if the deal was approved, hoping that would be enough to convince lawmakers to vote for it. That way, her Conservative Party could appoint another leader. Now many deal supporters in the party are calling for her to resign anyway.
Even if lawmakers had approved the agreement, they still would’ve had to vote on the political declaration to establish a future relationship with EU countries. The long-term arrangements would be negotiated over time after Britain exits. But none of that is possible now.
Shortly after the vote, EU Council President Donald Tusk called an emergency summit for April 10, two days before Britain’s new departure date of April 12. Lawmakers only needed to pass the withdrawal agreement Friday — not the political declaration — to extend the exit date to May 22.
The EU Commission said Friday a no-deal departure would be significantly worse than approving May’s withdrawal agreement.
“The Commission regrets the negative vote,” the EU Commission said. “A ‘no deal’ scenario on 12 April is now a likely scenario. The benefits of the Withdrawal Agreement, including a transition period, will in no circumstances be replicated in a ‘no-deal’ scenario.”
The British pound fell slightly in value after the vote, to $1.29 against the U.S. dollar.
“I think it’s a scandal. We voted to have a referendum … leave means leave,” one protester told CNN. “It’s like a game … when a team scores eight goals and another team scores nine goals, the team that scores nine goals is the winner.”