Theresa May holds all the cards on Brexit - for now

March 14, 2019

Theresa May has won support for her plan to extend Article 50, meaning the UK will not leave the European Union as planned on 29 March as long as the EU agrees to the delay.

The prime minister asked MPs to approve either a short extension if they back her deal or a longer one if they don't - the length of the delay will be decided by the middle of next week, before the EU council.

If her deal does not get through parliament by then Mrs May has promised MPs a series of indicative votes which will give them the chance to say what they would like to do instead.

But, she warned, this also means a much longer extension, to be decided by the EU.

The vote on Thursday allows Mrs May to hold onto control of the Commons for a bit longer, but she has been weakened by a series of heavy losses and by her own ministers voting against her to rule out no-deal on Tuesday.

Her position as prime minister will be significantly damaged if MPs don't back her deal in a third crucial vote and some have even suggested she could be forced to step down.

In other votes, calls for a second EU referendum failed to win support after Labour told its MPs not to back the plan - despite promising to back another vote previously. Only 85 MPs voted in favour of another referendum.

Other votes on Labour's proposal for next steps and on a plan to give MPs the chance to take control of the Brexit process and test their own preferred options also failed, adding to the list of things MPs have said they do not want.

Now the prime minister must get her own plan through the Commons and then rush through the legal documents to make the deal happen.

The vote on Thursday could have handed power over how the UK leaves the EU over to MPs but that bid has failed and Mrs May still holds the cards. If she fails to win a vote on her deal in the coming days that could all change once again.

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