UK parliament rejects EU withdrawal deal for 3rd time

LONDON (AA): In a 286-344 vote, Britain’s parliament on Friday rejected the EU withdrawal agreement for a third time, in so doing setting the date for Brexit just two weeks from now, with no deal.

The government brought the motion to pass the withdrawal agreement without the political declaration – a visionary document for the future relationship between the U.K. and EU – in a last-ditch effort to end the Brexit stalemate.

However, the opposition parties, as well as the government’s de facto partner Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), voted against the agreement.

The U.K. is now set to leave the EU on April 12 without a deal.

The EU had previously moved the date of Brexit from March 29 (today) to April 12 (if agreement did not approve the deal) or to May 22 (if it approved the deal) after agreeing to an extension.

“The implications of the house’s decision are grave,” Prime Minister Theresa May said following the vote.

“I fear we are reaching the limits of this process in this house,” she added.

She said MPs would debate alternatives to the political declaration next week.

“This government will continue to press for the orderly Brexit that the result of the referendum demands,” she said.

Main opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and SNP leader in Westminster Ian Blackford called on the prime minister to step down and trigger a general election.

May earlier this week said she would step down if her deal is approved by parliament.

May previously saw two heavy defeats on her deal in the House of Commons.

Donald Tusk, European Council president, said on Twitter shortly after the vote that he had called for a meeting of EU leaders on April 10, two days before the new exit date.

MPs are expected to continue looking for a majority behind an alternative Brexit plan through a debate next Monday.