The debate has started in the House of Commons and British lawmakers are set to vote for a third timeon a legally-binding document setting out the terms of the UK’s departure from the European Union at 14:30 UTC.
- If Parliament finally votes for the deal agreed by Prime Minister Theresa May with the EU, Britain will leave the bloc on May 22.
- Should it be rejected, Britain must present another plan or leave the EU without a deal in place on April 12.
- Unlike the two previous votes, it will not cover the political declaration which deals with the future relationship between the UK and the EU.
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13:25 May needs to bring on side dozens of her own MPs and more than 20 lawmakers from the opposition Labour.
The Scottish National Party has urged Labour members not to back the deal, saying they would pave the way for a future prime minister from the right wing of the Conservative party.
13:11 Former Conservative and anti-Brexit MP Anna Soubry tells parliament she doesn’t see why lawmakers get to vote on the deal three times, while the public aren’t allowed another say in a referendum.
Soubry says that she and other centrist MPs who broke away from both the Conservative and Labour parties have applied to register themselves as a new political party, Change UK. The word “change” featured heavily in Soubry’s speech.
12: 43 Former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has told parliament that he will back the deal, even though he believes it to be a bad one. “I believe we need to proceed with some realism,” he says.
Raab said he favored the deal over the “unsavory alternatives” of being trapped in the backstop and no Brexit.
12:15 The anti-Brexit activist Gina Miller has been talking to DW’s Birgit Maass on the day that Britain was originally scheduled to leave the European Union. “I’m huge and deeply sad that Mr Cameron ever put us in this position and that’s what I’m reminded of today. Today the day we supposed to leave reminds me what a catastrophic decision he made to hold that referendum.”
Miller is best known for successfully challenging the government in the UK’s Supreme Court to ensure that parliament could have a say in Britain’s exit from the EU.
“We are a representative democracy,” said Miller, who has faced death threats and been vilified in pro-Brexit newspapers since wining the case. “It is right that parliamentarians that we elect have oversight on what happens to our lives. So the court case was absolute the right thing to do.
11:45 Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party has said it cannot back a withdrawal deal that does not protect the whole of the United Kingdom.
A spokesman was responding to reports that the party might be about to yield and back the agreement.
Party leader Arlene Foster, whose 10 lawmakers prop up May’s government in the House of Commons , wrote in the Belfast Telegraph earlier on Friday that the party could not vote for the deal because it would “undermine the Union” between the UK’s four nations.
11:30 DW has been gathering the thoughts of some of Britain’s most creative minds. Author Ian McEwan told us that he would support a second referendum “every minute of the day.” And Scottish-born writer William Boyd tiold DW that Brexit “should never have happened.”
11:15 Leaders around Europe have been busy making their plans to deal with the potential fallout. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will travel to Dublin on Thursday next week to meet Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, two days after his visit to French President Emmanuel Macron.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said teh UK had a responsibility to “tell us what they want for the future relationship of their country with the EU.” And reminded MPs that the deal was the “best compromise.”
11:00 Hello and welcome to DW’s rolling coverage of the crunch vote in the UK Parliament. Ironically, this “the last chance we have to vote for Brexit as we understood it,” as UK Trade Minister Liam Fox describes it, comes on the day that the UK was scheduled to leave the bloc.
Events are being followed keenly around Europe, especially in Germany. The chairman of the Bundestag’s (the German parliament) foreign affairs committe, Norbert Röttgen, told DW earlier that Germany “knows the high and valuable contribution of Britain to the European Union. Perhaps Germany even more than others do.”