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Three strikes and you're out

May's Brexit deal is rejected for a third time as MPs demand she quits and calls a general election

 

THERESA MAY was told to resign and call a general election today after MPs rejected her Brexit plan for a third time.

The Commons voted down the EU Withdrawal Agreement by 344 votes to 286, a majority of 58.

They did not vote on the Political Declaration, as the government chose to separate it from the agreement in a bid to circumvent parliamentary rules barring Ms May from presenting the proposals for a third vote unless they were substantially different from what had been rejected before.

After the result was announced, Ms May finally conceded that a general election could be on the horizon, saying she feared that “we are reaching the limits of this process in this house.”

Outside Parliament, thousands of Brexit supporters held a demonstration to mark it being the day Britain was originally due to leave the European Union.

A separate Ukip rally was staged with far-right preacher Tommy Robinson and Ukip chief Gerard Batten on Whitehall, prompting a Stand Up to Racism counter-protest.

Some 34 Conservative rebels ignored Ms May’s last-ditch plea to take “the last opportunity to guarantee Brexit” and voted against her agreement, thus helping to inflict a third humiliating defeat on their party leader.

Only five Labour MPs voted for the deal – Kevin Barron, Rosie Cooper, Jim Fitzpatrick, Caroline Flint and John Mann. Independent former Labour MPs Frank Field and Ian Austin also voted in favour.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for a general election unless Ms May was willing to seek a cross-party alternative deal, which he had previously said should include a customs union with the EU.

He told MPs: “The house has been clear this deal now has to change. There has to be an alternative found.

“And if the Prime Minister can’t accept that then she must go – not at an indeterminate date in the future but now, so that we can decide the future of this country through a general election.”

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said that a general election or second referendum should be called on the government’s “absolutely dead” deal.

He said: “The Prime Minister has absolutely no credibility. We should put this back to the people.”

Steve Baker, deputy chair of the European Research Group of Tory Brexiteers, called on her to step down since her deal had already been rejected twice – by 230 votes in January and 149 in March.

Ms May had previously promised that she would quit if MPs approved her deal in order to allow another Tory to lead the next stage of EU negotiations.

With a majority in the Commons against a no-deal Brexit and with MPs seizing control of the parliamentary agenda on Monday for the second time, Ms May said that there would have to be “an alternative way forward.”

This was “almost certain” to involve having to stage elections to the European Parliament in May, she also said.

The result means that Britain has missed an EU deadline to secure an extension of the Brexit process and leave with a deal on May 22.

Ms May now has until April 12 to go back to Brussels with new proposals and seek a longer extension to the negotiation process, or Britain will leave without a deal on that day.

Former Bank of England governor Mervyn King said the country should be given six months to prepare to leave the EU with no deal.

“MPs have rather somehow lost the plot when we hear of people talking about the consequences of leaving without a deal as national suicide,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

European Council president Donald Tusk called an emergency summit on April 10 to discuss the implications of the vote.

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