News ID: 237124
Published: 0354 GMT January 09, 2019

UK government defeated as MPs vote for quick action if Brexit deal rejected

UK government defeated as MPs vote for quick action if Brexit deal rejected
HANNAH MCKAY/REUTERS
Pro-EU supporters hold flags outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster London, Britain, on December 19, 2018.

The British government was defeated in Parliament on Wednesday as members of Parliament voted for a procedural change that reduces the time it has to come up with an alternative plan if Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal is defeated next week.

The 308 to 297 defeat tries to force the government to come back within three working parliamentary days with a plan B, rather than the 21 days specified in Brexit law. The change is unlikely to supersede the 21 day time limit in law, but adds political pressure, Reuters reported.

If May’s deal is voted down next week, ministers have to say in a parliamentary motion how they plan to proceed within 21 days.

 

Angry protests

 

Some protesters wrap themselves in the flag of the European Union and noisily interrupt politicians’ television appearances. Others yell “Nazi” and “traitor”.

Britain’s lawmakers are split on how to handle Brexit but they agree that the atmosphere in the public spaces outside Parliament – often populated with angry demonstrators – has become ugly and intimidatory.

This increasingly raucous brand of street activism has raised questions about what has happened to British politics in recent years, and where the boundaries of free speech now lie.

More than 2-1/2 years since Britain voted by 52 to 48 percent to leave the European Union, the country remains divided. Demonstrators who back Brexit and others who want to stay in the European Union have become a fixture in the gardens opposite Parliament.

The area is also used by media for interviews and while protests have generally been peaceful, politicians and journalists say the atmosphere has turned increasingly nasty in recent weeks.

 

Roadmap to second referendum

 

Pro-European Union campaigners in Britain have set out for the first time their preferred path for how Parliament could force the government to call a fresh vote on Brexit, arguing that there is still time for another referendum.

The future of Brexit remains deeply uncertain – with options ranging from a disorderly exit to another referendum – because British lawmakers are expected on Jan. 15 to vote down the deal that the prime minister struck with the EU in November.

May has repeatedly rejected the idea of a second referendum on leaving the EU, but the campaign for a so-called “People’s Vote” on the deal that May has agreed, has won support from some in Parliament.

The People’s Vote campaign said in a report that lawmakers should amend that motion by calling for another referendum. This would happen around the middle of February.

Britain would then be forced to ask for an extension to its timetable for leaving the EU to allow enough time for another referendum campaign, which may take around four months.

 

   
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