The British Parliament failed yet again on Monday to break the Brexit impasse after MPs still were unable to reach a consensus on an alternative to Theresa May's Brexit deal. With only ten days left before the country's scheduled departure from the EU, parliament voted down four separate proposals, and none of the proposals earned a majority in the second round of so-called "indicative votes" to test Parliamentary support, as was the case in the first such votes last Wednesday.
Options included customs union proposal put forward by Ken Clarke which could have led to a soft Brexit, holding another public vote to confirm any option agreed by Parliament, Common Market 2.0 proposal which would have seen the UK to remain in the single market and join a temporary customs union, and giving the Parliament to avoid no-deal by cancelling Brexit if no extension was granted by the EU beyond the current 12 April deadline. In the second round of indicative votes, customs union proposal came closest to securing a majority - failing by just three votes, while the proposal to hold the second referendum received the most parliamentary support - it received 280 votes but had 292 against.Â [optin-monster-shortcode id="wxhmli4jjedneglg1trq"]
After the voting process, Nick Boles, a former Conservative minister, in a surprising turn of events, resigned from the party. He blamed his former party's unpromising stance for his resignation. He was in favour of keeping the UK in the single market and a customs union with the EU, but narrowly failed. At the same time, Ken Clarke, the former Conservative chancellor, accused advocates of a second referendum of the being the reason behind his failure to keep the UK in a customs union. His plan was seen by many as the most likely option to deliver a softer Brexit.
Theresa May held a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, where the next steps were discussed, including another vote on her Brexit deal or calling a snap election. After the meeting, she informed that she would seek a delay. However, the delay will be "as short as possible" and reiterated she did not want the UK to take part in the European elections. May's deal has been put to test in the Parliament thrice, losing by 230, 149 and 58 votes respectively. Now, it seems, MPs will get a fourth go later this week, though DUP and Tory hardline Brexiters were still adamant that they cannot back the plan. The plan is unlikely to pass this time as well as even her cabinet is split over whether to move to a softer deal. In order to break the impasse, Theresa May has now decided to seek a Brexit compromise and consult opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn. However, this decision will risk further diving her party and inflaming anger. The labour party is itself divided over the final shape of the Brexit, but primarily wants to stay in a customs union with the EU. This raises the possibility of a "soft" Brexit.
The EU leaders are slated to hold a meeting on April 10th to discuss Britain's departure from the bloc. If the prime minister requests a long delay, unanimous approval of all member states will be required. On Tuesday, the EU's Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said there is still the possibility of the UK asking for a longer extension, though the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit is "day after day more likely", but for a lengthy extension, a strong justification would be needed.