Brexit: MPs to vote on 29 March no-deal exit from EU

Posted in 14 March 2019

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MPs will vote later on whether to block the UK from leaving the EU without a deal on 29 March, after again rejecting the PM's withdrawal agreement.

The deal was defeated in the Commons on Tuesday evening by 149 votes. Meanwhile the UK government has said it will cut tariffs on a range of imports from outside the EU and introduce measures to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland in a no-deal scenario.

The EU said no deal plans were "more important than ever" after the defeat. Numerous EU leaders expressed their dismay after MPs voted by 391 to 242 votes to reject Mrs May's deal.

On Wednesday morning the government announced that most imports into the UK would not attract a tariff in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Under a temporary scheme 87% of imports by value would be eligible for zero-tariff access - up from 80% at present. Tariffs would be maintained to protect some industries, including agriculture.

The government also announced it will not introduce any new checks or controls, or require customs declarations for any goods moving from across the border from Ireland to Northern Ireland if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

The decision to drop all checks to avoid friction at the UK's land border with the EU will be temporary while longer term solutions are negotiated.

Mrs May, who is currently chairing a cabinet meeting, has said Tory MPs will get a free vote on Wednesday evening's motion.

That means ministers and MPs can vote with their conscience rather than following the orders of party managers - an unusual move for a vote on a major policy.

Wednesday's no-deal debate will begin after Prime Minister's Questions and Chancellor Philip Hammond's Spring Statement economic update.

MPs are expected to vote on the government motion, which says: "This House declines to approve leaving the European Union without a withdrawal agreement and a framework on the future relationship on 29 March", at about 19:00.

If no-deal is rejected, MPs will vote on Thursday on delaying Brexit by extending Article 50 - the legal mechanism that takes the UK out of the EU.

The EU has said it would need "a credible justification" before agreeing to any extension. Leaving the EU in 16 days' time remains the UK's default position under the law. (BBC)