LONDRES– The United Kingdom Parliament has Friday rejected a withdrawal agreement from the European Union for the third time.
Lawmakers voted 344-286 against the draft deal, which means the Brexit will be extended until April 12.
Friday was the day that Britain was scheduled to leave the EU.
Theresa May said it was a «matter of profound regret that once again this House been unable to support leaving European Union in an orderly way.»
She said the «implications are grave» of the decision and added: «The default is the UK due to leave on 12 April – in just 14 days time.»
May said that any way forward is «almost certain to involve UK being required to hold European Parliamentary elections» and added: «I fear we are reaching the limits of this process in the House.»
European leaders last week agreed that if May’s deal was passed, the UK would leave on May 22. But he deal has been rejected, meaning the UK will have to come up with an alternative Brexit plan by Apr. 12.
Any further extension past 12 April would have to be approved by all 27 EU leaders and would require the UK to take part in the upcoming European elections.
The latest vote was only on the withdrawal agreement, a legally-binding document setting out the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU, and not the accompanying political declaration, which covers the future of UK-EU relations.
It was the third time the deal was brought before Members of Parliament, after being rejected twice by large margins.
The government agreed that voting on the withdrawal agreement alone was enough to meet the requirements of Speaker John Bercow, who previously said that any more votes on the deal had to be substantially different from the last two.
In a meeting Wednesday, May promised her Conservative Party colleagues that if they backed her deal, she would step down and make way for a new prime minister to preside over negotiations with the EU on future relations between London and Brussels.
But the Northern Ireland-based Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up the Conservative minority government, remained opposed, saying that it would prefer to delay Brexit for a year.
The DUP, and many Conservatives, opposed the provision of the Withdrawal Agreement known as the Irish backstop, aimed at averting the establishment of a hard border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.
Critics of the backstop say it could trap the UK in a permanent customs union with the EU.
MPs held indicative votes on Wednesday on a number of options to see if there is a parliamentary majority for a different agreement.
None of the eight proposed alternatives to May’s deal that came to a vote in the House of Commons were able to command a majority.