- Theresa May defeated a Brexit amendment brought forward by Yvette Cooper that called on the prime minister to delay Brexit.
- MPs voted 321 to 298 to reject the amendment, which would have triggered a new law seeking to extend Brexit beyond March 29.
- Cooper would have had the power to bring a binding piece of legislation before Parliament that could force May to seek an extension from the European Union.
- Any extension would have needed unanimous support from other EU countries.
LONDON – Theresa May has defeated an amendment which could have forced her to delay Brexit.
Members of Parliament voted 321 to 298 to reject an amendment brought by Labour MP Yvette Cooper, which was designed to allow MPs to force the prime minister to extend the UK’s negotiating time with the European Union beyond March 29.
14 Labour MPs helped May’s government defeat the amendment.
The defeat means the House of Commons will not have the opportunity to vote on a new bill, which could have forced May to seek an extension from the EU if no Brexit deal is agreed to by MPs by the end of February.
Any extension would have needed unanimous support from other EU leaders.
Senior EU figures have not ruled out an extension. However, any such measure would likely need to have a purpose, such as to enable a deal to be ratified by the UK parliament, or to allow a second Brexit referendum, or general election.
The amendment was backed by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who told his MPs to back the amendment, saying that it was now “inevitable” that Britain will not leave the EU at the end of March.
“It’s inevitable that the government will have to extend Article 50 in any scenario,” Corbyn said.
However, a significant number of Labour MPs, including those on Corbyn’s frontbench, were concerned that backing the amendment would trigger a backlash among Labour voters who support leaving the EU.
The pound dropped after the news of Cooper’s amendment falling.