Brexit: European Commission says no deal ‘likely’ after MPs reject May’s deal

Tusk calls for emergency EU meeting as withdrawal agreement is defeated by 58 votes

The European Commission has said that a no-deal Brexit is now a "likely scenario" after Theresa May's latest vote on the Brexit withdrawal agreement was defeated by 58 votes.

It comes as Donald Tusk announced European Union leaders will meet on April 10th to discuss Britain’s departure from the bloc.

“In view of the rejection of the withdrawal agreement by the House of Commons, I have decided to call a European Council on April 10th,” he said.

In response to the vote results, the European Commission said the benefits of the withdrawal agreement, including a transition period, will “in no circumstances be replicated in a no-deal scenario”.


“The Commission regrets the negative vote in the House of Commons today,” it said in a statement. “The EU. . . is now fully prepared for a ‘no-deal’ scenario at midnight on April 12th.”

The Commission also said divorce terms without the failed withdrawal agreement would be much worse. “The benefits of the withdrawal agreement, including a transition period, will in no circumstances be replicated in a ‘no-deal’ scenario. Sectoral mini-deals are not an option.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said European Union leaders must be open to a long extension if Britain decides to fundamentally reconsider its Brexit approach, adding that such a request would result in a generous response.

But Mr Varadkar also warned of the growing risk of a disruptive no-deal Brexit, after British lawmakers rejected for a third time the withdrawal agreement negotiated by prime minister Theresa May and the EU.

The Taoiseach said it is “not clear” that the UK has fully understood a no-deal Brexit is off the agenda, saying no deal is a “growing possibility”.

“Ireland has been preparing intensively for a no-deal scenario. But no one should underestimate the difficulties that a no deal will present, for all of us, including the UK.”

Crunch vote

The House of Commons rejected the agreement by 344-286 votes at 2.30pm following a tense debate.

The result of the crunch vote means that the UK has missed an EU deadline to secure an extension of the Brexit process and leave with a deal on May 22nd.

Mrs May now has until April 12th to go back to Brussels with new proposals and seek a longer extension to the negotiation process, or see the UK leave without a deal that day.

Mrs May, raising a point of order after the defeat, said: “I think it should be a matter of profound regret to every member of this House that once again we have been unable to support leaving the European Union in an orderly fashion.

“The implications of the House’s decision are grave.

“The legal default now is that the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on April 12th — in just 14 days’ time.

“This is not enough time to agree, legislate for and ratify a deal, and yet the House has been clear it will not permit leaving without a deal. And so we will have to agree an alternative way forward.”

The Democratic Unionist Party has said it “regrets” that insufficient progress has been made on the deal and have been unable to back the withdrawal agreement.


“The Democratic Unionist Party has consistently and repeatedly indicated that we could not support the withdrawal agreement because of the construction of the backstop,” the DUP’s Nigel Dodds said.

“We have said that were the backstop to become operational Northern Ireland would sit in a separate legal position from the rest of the United Kingdom in economic and trade terms.

“We have encouraged the Government to do, as Dominic Raab has said, to return to Brussels on these issues and not simply to accept the position of the European Union as being unalterable.

“We deeply regret the numerous missed opportunities by those who negotiated on behalf of the UK to listen to our warnings about the dangers of the backstop and to take steps to remedy those deficiencies.

The Brexiteer group ERG has called for Theresa May’s resignation, saying it must be the final defeat for Mrs May’s deal.

“It’s finished. And we must move on.

“It has not passed. It will not pass. I regret to say it is time for Theresa May to follow through on her words and make way so that a new leader can deliver a withdrawal agreement which can be passed by parliament.”

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn called for Mrs May to step aside and for a general election to be held. Mr Corbyn said: “This is now the third time the prime minister’s deal has been rejected.

“The House has been clear this deal now has to change. There has to be an alternative found.

“If the prime minister can’t accept that then she must go. Not at an indeterminate date in the future, but now, so that we can decide the future of this country through a general election.”

In a special Friday sitting of the Commons, MPs were debating the legally binding treaty segment of the prime minister’s Brexit deal, but not the accompanying Political Declaration setting out plans for the future EU/UK relationship. – PA/Reuters