Prime Minister Theresa May has failed in a fresh bid to get her Brexit Withdrawal Agreement backed by the House of Commons – on the day the UK was originally due to leave the European Union (EU).
The Tory leader had split the legally-binding treaty segment of her Brexit deal from the declaration on future relations with the bloc in order to ensure MPs could vote on it on Friday.
However a majority of 58 MPs rejected the Prime Minister’s motion to approve the Withdrawal Agreement so the UK can leave EU on May 22.
In dramatic scenes in the House of Commons, politicians voted 344 to 286 against the deal as hundreds of protesters staged a noisy demonstration outside on the day when the UK was due to leave.
It is the third time the UK Government’s deal has been rejected by the Commons.
The result of the crunch vote means that the UK has missed an EU deadline to secure an extension of the Brexit process and leave with a deal on May 22.
Mrs May now has until April 12 to go back to Brussels with new proposals and seek a longer extension to the negotiation process, or see the UK leave without a deal that day.
With a clear majority in the Commons against no-deal, and with MPs once more seizing control of the timetable on Monday, Mrs May said that the UK would have to find “an alternative way forward”.
This was “almost certain” to involve the UK having to stage elections to the European Parliament in May, she said.
Mrs May said that the outcome was “a matter of profound regret”.
She added: “The European Union has been clear that any further extension will need to have a clear purpose and will need to be agreed unanimously by the heads of the other 27 member states ahead of April 12.
“It is also almost certain to involve the UK being required to hold European parliamentary elections.
“On Monday, this House will continue the process to see if there is a stable majority for a particular alternative version of our future relationship with the EU. Of course, all of the options will require the Withdrawal Agreement.
“I fear we are reaching the limits of this process in this House. This House has rejected no-deal. It has rejected no Brexit. On Wednesday it rejected all the variations of the deal on the table, and today it has rejected approving the Withdrawal Agreement alone and continuing a process on the future.
“This Government will continue to press the case for the orderly Brexit that the result of the referendum demands.”