Thrice into the Fray: UK PM Asks Government to Vote on Brexit Deal for a Third Time

March 15, 2019

Brexit update: The UK government has rejected the withdrawal deal again and now faces further uncertainty, despite rejections of a 'no-deal' scenario by ministers, as well as a high probability of Brexit delay.

On Tuesday March 12, 2019, the United Kingdom’s government once again rejected the Prime Minister’s withdrawal deal for Brexit, a day later a slim majority voted to reject a ‘no-deal’ Brexit under any circumstance, and then a vote on Thursday March 14, 2019 has resulted in the government seeking an extension to Article 50.

The rejection of the ‘no-deal’ scenario, however is not legally binding, which means that there is still a possibility the UK could crash out of the European Union (EU) without a deal in place at the end of March, and for an extension to Article 50 to be possible, all other EU member states must be in agreement. So, before Brussels enter talks about a Brexit extension (set to take place on March 21, 2019), Prime Minister Theresa May will once again attempt to persuade the government to back her withdrawal deal for a third time in another parliamentary vote on March 20, 2019.

In a statement, delivered to the House of Commons on March 13, 2019 and published on the government’s website, May stated: “The options before us are the same as they have always been: We could leave with the deal which this government has negotiated over the past two years. We could leave with the deal we have negotiated but subject to a second referendum. But that would risk no Brexit at all, damaging the fragile trust between the British public and the members of this House. We could seek to negotiate a different deal. However, the EU have been clear that the deal on the table is indeed the only deal available.”

The chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, Mike Thompson, released a statement stressing the importance of avoiding a ‘no-deal’ scenario for the pharma industry. “Pharmaceutical companies have done everything in their power to prepare for a ‘no deal’ Brexit. This includes increasing stocks of medicines, changing and adding new supply routes and duplicating manufacturing processes here and in Europe,” he said. “Despite these efforts, we have always said that in a ‘no-deal’ scenario we could face the very real possibility of disruption to the supply of some medicines. With just days remaining we need a solution which avoids a 'no deal' Brexit and the potential harm it could cause.”

Stephen Phipson, CEO of Make UK, the manufacturers’ organization, also provided comment on the withdrawal vote and remaining risk of a ‘no-deal’ scenario. “The vote was decisive. It is now essential that Parliament brings the curtain down on this farce and removes the risk of no deal today,” he stated. “That outcome would be disastrous for the UK manufacturing, jeopardising many thousands of jobs in every constituency in the land. Once the risk of no deal is removed, it is vital that parliament and the government move swiftly to set out a clear path for the future. Three years of uncertainty have been disastrous for our sector and we must establish a credible plan for the future as quickly as possible.”

If parliament backs May’s deal in the third vote on March 20, 2019, then a request will be put forward to delay Brexit until June 30, 2019 in order to allow for legislation to be passed through parliament, a BBC report confirmed. However, if the withdrawal deal is once again rejected there could be a much longer delay.

Sources: Gov.ukABPIMake UKBBC