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Theresa May loses crucial vote on her Brexit deal for a third time

Key Points
  • Theresa May has lost again in her bid to get her "Withdrawal Deal" approved by U.K. lawmakers.
  • She had offered her future resignation in an apparent exchange for support of the deal.
Prime Minister Theresa May listens in the House of Commons, London.
PA Images | PA Images | Getty Images

British Prime Minister Theresa May has lost another crucial Brexit vote in the U.K. Parliament as lawmakers again refused to back her deal to leave the European Union.

May's draft proposal to leave the bloc, which has been signed off by EU officials in Brussels, had already been rejected twice by U.K. Members of Parliament. This time her deal was beaten by 344 votes to 286, a margin of 58 votes.

Friday's vote was considered slightly different as it only covered the "withdrawal deal" — a near 600-page treaty that agreed citizen's rights after Brexit, a £39 billion ($51 billion) divorce deal and how to treat the Irish land border.

A political declaration element that vaguely outlines their future trading relationship, was not put before parliamentarians. This change was seen as enabling the vote to circumvent parliamentary rules and potentially bringing more rebel lawmakers on board.

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In reaction to the vote, sterling fell below 1.30 versus the dollar, after trading above $1.310 for much of the session. Addressing the House of Commons after her defeat, May said the government would continue to press the case for an "orderly Brexit." The leaders of the main opposition Labour party and Scottish National Party both responded by calling for May to now hold a general election.

As soon as the result was announced, the European Council President Donald Tusk said on Twitter that an emergency EU summit would now be held on April 10 — just two days before the U.K. is officially set to leave the European Union.

In a separate statement, the European Commission said that a no-deal Brexit on April 12 was now "likely," before adding that the U.K. should now "indicate the way forward before that date."

Uphill task

May had faced an uphill task to overturn the 149-vote rejection of her EU divorce deal when it was last voted on earlier this month. She had offered her future resignation in an apparent exchange for support of the deal.

Opposition came from all corners of the House of Commons and, crucially, May was unable to convince lawmakers from within her own Conservative Party.

Prior to the vote, the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon had described May's proposal as a "blind Brexit."

Labour MP and Remain campaigner David Lammy also took to Twitter to say it is time for May and Parliament to hand control back to the British public and offer another referendum.

Britain was supposed the leave the EU on Friday, but had been given until May 22 if politicians could agree to May's deal. As they have not managed to do so the new cut-off date is April 12.

If Britain asks to stay longer, it will have to participate in European Parliamentary elections that start on May 23.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for further updates.

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