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UK parliament again rejects draft Brexit deal with EU

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The parliament of the United Kingdom on Tuesday again rejected a draft deal with Brussels to specify the terms of UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

With only 17 days left until the UK’s official withdrawal from the European Union, London and Brussels still fail to agree on its terms.

During Tuesday’s vote, 391 members of the House of Commons voted against the deal, while 242 supported it. Although the margin of 149 votes was an improvement from the record 230-vote defeat in January, UK Prime Minister Theresa May again failed to gain sufficient support for the document even within the ranks of her own party.

According to May, if the deal is rejected again, the country’s parliament will have an opportunity to vote on a no-deal Brexit as early as on March 13.

“Two weeks ago, I made a series of commitments from this despatch box regarding the steps we would take in the event that this House rejected the deal on offer. I stand by those commitments in full,” she told the parliament after the vote. “Therefore, tonight we will table a motion for debate tomorrow to test whether the House supports leaving the European Union without a deal on 29th March.”

“If the House votes to leave without a deal on 29 March, it will be the policy of the Government to implement that decision,” she said.

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Due to the “grave importance” of the issue, the upcoming vote will be held in the free format, allowing lawmakers to ignore the party discipline and make the decision according to their personal views and beliefs.

The prime minister also confirmed that if the parliament rejects the no-deal scenario, its members will vote on postponing the official Brexit day under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The article envisages extending the two-year withdrawal period, but only if the initiative gets a unanimous approval of the European Council.

“Let me be clear. Voting against leaving without a deal and for an extension does not solve the problems we face. The EU will want to know what use we mean to make of such an extension,” May said. “This House will have to answer that question. Does it wish to revoke Article 50? Does it want to hold a second referendum? Or does it want to leave with a deal but not this deal?”

She also reiterated that she favored leaving the EU “in an orderly fashion with a deal”, and the withdrawal agreement, rejected on Tuesday, was “the best and indeed the only deal available.”

Meanwhile, the European Union’s chief negotiator on Brexit, Michel Barnier, said Brussels did its best to save the document.

“The EU has done everything it can to help get the Withdrawal Agreement over the line. The impasse can only be solved in the UK. Our ‘no-deal’ preparations are now more important than ever before,” the official said in a Twitter post.

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