Britain's Labour to back second referendum after Brexit plan rejected

London - By Bill Smith, - Britain's main opposition party said it plans to back a second referendum on leaving the European Union after parliament rejected its alternative to Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plan late Wednesday.

"We will back a public vote in order to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit or a disastrous no deal outcome," Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said following the defeat of Labour's amendment.

Lawmakers in parliament's main elected house, the Commons, also approved a cross-party amendment by 502 to 20 votes to cement May's promise to allow votes on a no-deal Brexit and on extending negotiations with the EU if lawmakers reject her deal again.
In a series of votes, they approved a government-backed amendment requiring Britain to seek a joint commitment to protect the rights of EU and British citizens after Brexit, whatever the outcome of last-minute negotiations.
The Labour amendment had sought to keep Britain in a "permanent and comprehensive customs union with the EU" after Brexit and "close alignment" with the EU single market. It was rejected by by 323 to 240 votes.
Despite the defeat, Corbyn said Labour "will also continue to push for the other available options to prevent those outcomes, including a close economic relationship based on our credible alternative plan or a general election."
Labour said earlier that it planned to "put forward or support an amendment in favour of a public vote" if parliament rejected its alternative to May's Brexit deal.
Writing in Wednesday's Daily Mail, one of Britain's most popular tabloids, May insisted that a Brexit deal by March 29 remains "within our grasp."
"Parliament should do its duty so that our country can move forward, May wrote.
Wednesday's votes follow weeks of political jockeying and will not directly determine the fate of the Brexit deal.
May vowed on Tuesday to give lawmakers a second "meaningful vote" by March 12 on the Brexit deal, after a crushing defeat last month.
She promised two new votes on a no-deal Brexit and on extending negotiations with the EU if lawmakers reject the deal again.
May said any extension would only be until the end of June at the latest.
The political debate in London was being watched closely in European Union capitals.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday the time has come for Britain to "make choices" and tell the European Union its plan for Brexit.
The withdrawal agreement reached by Britain and the EU but rejected by the British parliament could not be renegotiated, Macron said, adding: "If the British need more time, we can consider a request for an extension, if it is justified by new choices by the British."
"The moment has therefore come for the British to make choices, and to give us what is owed between partners, friends and allies - a clear vision, a joint plan for the future," Macron said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was meeting with Macron, concurred.
"The exit deal stands as it is," Merkel confirmed. "If Britain needs a little more time, then we won't refuse, but we are striving for a regulated exit of Britain from the EU."


Wednesday, February 27th 2019
By Bill Smith,

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