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British MPs vote to seek Article 50 extension

2019/3/15 10:04:15   source:Xinhua

BRITAIN-LONDON-SECOND BREXIT REFERENDUM-VOTE

British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street for the House of Commons in London, Britain, on March 14, 2019. British MPs on Thursday voted to reject an amendment calling for a second Brexit referendum. (Xinhua/Han Yan)

British MPs on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to ask the European Union (EU) for an extension to Article 50 in the trouble Brexit process.

They voted in the House of Commons by 412 to 202, a majority of 210, to request the EU agreement for delaying the Brexit until June 30.

The result means a British request for the EU to grant an extension to the Article 50 negotiation period beyond March 29, when Brexit is due.

The result was seen as a victory for the British government which tabled the motion, while MPs voted down a motion by the opposition Labour Party proposing to address the Brexit issue through "different approaches."

Earlier, MPs rejected an amendment calling for a second Brexit referendum. It was the first time the question of a new public referendum had faced a parliamentary vote since the first referendum was conducted in June 2016.

The Thursday votes came after MPs defied the British government on Wednesday and dramatically decided to rule out a no-deal withdrawal from the EU in scenes some Tory Brexiteers described as "chaotic".

The vote outcomes came with only 15 days to go before Britain leaves the European Union on March 29.

There has been no consensus in the British political circle on how the country will leave the regional bloc to end its 46-year-old EU membership.

Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty sets out how an EU country might voluntarily leave the union. The wording is vague, almost as if the drafters thought it unlikely that it would ever come into play.

Now, it is the subject of a dispute between EU leaders desperate for certainty in the wake of the Brexit vote, and Brexiteers in the UK playing for time, observers said.

Also on Thursday, MPs voted by 312 to 314 to reject an amendment to give themselves time to vote on Brexit options.

Before the parliament voted to seek a delayed Brexit, a spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said that the government will redouble efforts to secure a Brexit deal. May's withdrawal agreement, reached by London and Brussels in November 2018, was rejected twice by the House of Commons since January. There is a chance for a third vote in the parliament.

Earlier Thursday, the EU Commission said that it is up to EU leaders to consider any Brexit extension request from London, and it will take account of reasons for and duration of the proposed postponement.

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