May loses control of Brexit process to Parliament

By BLOOMBERG

LONDON • The UK Parliament seized control of the Brexit process from Prime Minister Theresa May and will now seek to decide how Britain exits the European Union (EU).

In a vote late Monday, the House of Commons split 329 to 302 to schedule votes on a series of alternative strategies, potentially including a second referendum, keeping the UK in the bloc’s customs union, leaving without a deal and even cancelling Brexit altogether.

Three ministers resigned to back the plan, which sets up the possibility that MPs could force the beleaguered premier to abandon her deal with Brussels and implement their choice. One of them, Steve Brine, said yesterday the pro-Brexit faction in his Conservative Party should see the result as an indication Parliament will push to keep closer ties to the EU.

“Maybe what last night will do is focus some minds for those on my side who don’t like the deal,” Brine told BBC Radio yesterday. “Maybe they will realise that the House of Commons is prepared to act and anything from here gets softer in terms of Brexit.”

In a sign of how far May has lost the trust of MPs, even on her own side, the defeat came despite last-minute promises from her government that it would implement the plan itself if lawmakers voted against it.

The EU has ruled that if Parliament doesn’t approve May’s deal by Friday, the UK has until April 12 to come up with a case for a much longer delay to Brexit, or leave the bloc immediately with no agreement. — Bloomberg