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EU lawmakers vote to approve Brexit delay if UK requests one

Published:Wednesday | September 18, 2019 | 9:04 AM
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage (left middle row) and other Parliament Members vote a resolution for the UK withdrawal from the EU, Wednesday, September 18, 2019, in Strasbourg. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

STRASBOURG, France (AP) — European Parliament lawmakers on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly in favour of another Brexit delay if Britain requests one and certain conditions are met, after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told the chamber that a no-deal scenario remains “very real.”

After a three-hour debate, the lawmakers adopted a non-binding resolution supporting another extension to the Brexit deadline.

Lawmakers voted 544-126 with 38 abstentions in Strasbourg.

Despite claims from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the U.K. will leave on the scheduled October 31 date with or without a withdrawal agreement, EU leaders are expected to discuss the possibility of another postponement at a two-day summit in Brussels next month if no progress toward a deal has been made by then.

Britain’s departure from the 28-nation bloc has already been delayed twice.

EU lawmakers put conditions in the resolution, saying they would only support an extension if it was justified by a specific purpose such as “avoiding a no-deal departure, holding general elections or a referendum, revoking Article 50 (the procedure that triggered the Brexit process), or approving the (current) withdrawal agreement.”

Speaking at the parliament before the vote, Juncker, who met with Johnson on Monday, said a no-deal Brexit “might be the choice of the U.K., but it will never be ours.”

The main sticking point over a Brexit deal is the Irish border backstop, which would require Britain to respect EU trade and customs rules in order to avoid a hard border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.’s Northern Ireland until a better solution is found.

In their resolution, EU lawmakers also pledged to reject any deal without a backstop and insisted Britain will be “solely responsible for a no-deal departure.”

The European Parliament must endorse any Brexit deal for it to be implemented.

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