MPs will vote on Thursday on delaying Brexit after they rejected the idea of leaving the EU without a deal.
In a night of high drama in the Commons, MPs surprised the government and voted by 312 to 308 to reject a no-deal Brexit under any circumstances.
The vote is not binding – under current law the UK could still leave without a deal on 29 March.
On Thursday, MPs will vote on whether to ask the EU for permission to delay the date for departure.
There could be a short extension – or a much longer one – depending on whether MPs backed the prime minister’s existing withdrawal deal that has been agreed with the EU by 20 March, the government says.
That means Theresa May could make a third attempt to get her deal through Parliament in the next few days.
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In a series of votes on no-deal Brexit, the Commons first voted by a margin of four to reject no deal outright….
This is now a crisis – the rules that traditionally have preserved governments are out of the window.
The prime minister has been defeated again. Her authority – if not all gone – is in shreds.
But for Number 10 there’s an opportunity too, because MPs will soon be presented with a new choice – back the PM’s deal, which has already been defeated twice, or accept the chance of a delay to Brexit.
This isn’t the choice of a government that’s in control. But the tactic is to make the best of chaos.
Speaking after the result of the vote was read out, Mrs May said: “The options before us are the same as they always have been.
“The legal default in EU and UK law is that the UK will leave without a deal unless something else is agreed. The onus is now on every one of us in this House to find out what that is.”