The option of a no-deal was first ruled out by MPs after an amendment originally tabled by Caroline Spelman passed by a close vote of 312-308.
The Spelman amendment says the House “rejects the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a withdrawal agreement and a framework for the future relationship.”
The MPs then voted on the main motion, as amended, passing it with an even greater margin of 43, with 321 voting in favor and 278 against.
After the vote, Prime Minister Theresa May again urged the MPs to back her Brexit deal with the EU – already rejected twice in the House – saying that otherwise a lengthy extension of Article 50 will be required.
“I profoundly regret the decision that this House has taken tonight,” May said. “I continue to believe that by far the best outcome is that the UK leaves the EU in an orderly fashion with a deal, and that the deal we have negotiated is the best and indeed the only deal available.”
Although Britain is now looking to leave the EU only after having secured a deal with Brussels, it still needs to negotiate a delay on Article 50 by March 29 – the Brexit deadline day.
The EU, on its part, urged the UK Parliament to approve the deal brokered by May, reminding the MPs that simply voting against the no-deal scenario was not enough to untangle the Brexit mess.
“We take note of the votes in the House of Commons this evening,” a EU Commission spokeswoman said, adding that “to take no deal off the table, it is not enough to vote against no deal – you have to agree to a deal.” It reiterated that the EU is “ready to sign” the text of the deal earlier agreed with May.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn yet again blasted May for failing to find a “compromise solution” on Brexit, while lauding the efforts of his own party to do so.
“Labour has set out a credible alternative plan. Honorable members across this House are coming forward with proposals, whether that’s for a permanent customs union, a public vote, Norway Plus or other ideas. Let us, as a House of Commons work now to find a solution,” Corbyn said.
The “public vote” part apparently refers to a new referendum on Brexit, as Labour has seemingly walked away from its support towards putting May’s deal on public vote that it expressed just a week ago. A spokesman for Corbyn said May’s plan was no longer credible and it would “not be right” to ask the public about it after it was rejected twice by the MPs.
The Wednesday events at the Parliament repeatedly sparked confusion among the observers and media. The initial motion was tabled by May after her Brexit plan failed on Tuesday, and it merely stated the House does not “approve” of a no-deal Brexit situation. The things turned chaotic, however, after an amendment to reinforce the language of the motion was tabled by Tory MP Dame Caroline Spelman to say the House “rejects” the no-deal. Spelman was then pressed by the government to withdraw the controversial amendment – yet she failed to do so as other signatories “persisted” with it.
As the amendment was narrowly adopted, the government found itself in a complete disarray and no longer supporting its own motion. At least four ministers have reportedly gone against the Prime Minister and at least one – Sarah Newton – has since resigned as a minister at the Department for Work and Pensions over the vote. Several others abstained from the voting altogether.