Brussels declares no-deal Brexit 'likely' as MPs reject Theresa May's plan for third time
Brussels today said a no-deal Brexit had become a “likely” result of the continued turmoil in Westminster, after MPs rejected Theresa May’s plan for a third time.
The European Commission said it was “fully prepared” for the UK to quit the bloc without a plan in two weeks time on 12 April.
MPs voted 344 to 286 to reject the Withdrawal Agreement the Prime Minister struck with Brussels in another hammer-blow to her authority.
Backing the deal would have seen the UK exit the EU on 22 May - leaving it enough time to pass the necessary legislation for the smoothest departure possible.
But now the country has until 12 April to come up with an alternative Brexit plan or face the prospect of either a much longer extension - and participation in May's European elections - or leaving without a deal.
A statement from the Commission after the vote was announced said: “The Commission regrets the negative vote in the House of Commons today.”
It added: “A ‘no-deal’ scenario on 12 April is now a likely scenario. The EU has been preparing for this since December 2017 and is now fully prepared for a ‘no-deal’ scenario at midnight on 12 April.
“The EU will remain united. The benefits of the Withdrawal Agreement, including a transition period, will in no circumstances be replicated in a ‘no-deal’ scenario. Sectoral mini-deals are not an option.”
European Council president Donald Tusk confirmed he would be calling an emergency summit of EU leaders on 10 April.
The Prime Minister suffered the defeat after she failed to convince the DUP - whose 10 MPs prop up her minority government - to support her deal.
Although many Tory eurosceptics - including Boris Johnson - did finally drop their opposition to the deal, Mrs May failed to persuade enough Labour MPs to back her, meaning defeat was inevitable.
'REACHING THE LIMITS'
After the result, the Prime Minister told the Commons: “I fear we are reaching the limits of this process in this House.
“This House has rejected no deal. It has rejected no Brexit. On Wednesday it rejected all the variations of the deal on the table.
“And today it has rejected approving the Withdrawal Agreement alone and continuing a process on the future.
“This Government will continue to press the case for the orderly Brexit that the result of the referendum demands.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “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.”
On Monday MPs will continue holding symbolic votes on various Brexit options in a desperate bid to break the impasse.