British MPs have narrowly approved in favour of a bill seeking to delay Brexit as they attempt to avoid a no-deal exit from the European Union.
In a third reading, the House of Commons voted by 313 votes to 312 late on Wednesday, forcing Prime Minister Theresa May to seek an extension of the current Brexit date of April 12.
The bill, put forward by Labour Party’s Yvette Cooper, now needs to be approved by the House of Lords before it becomes law. The European Union would also need to agree to a delay, the BBC reported.
The development came as talks between government negotiators and Labour were set to continue throughout Thursday after May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn agreed a “programme of work”.
A No 10 spokesman said that both parties showed “flexibility” and “a commitment to bring the… uncertainty to a close”.
Corbyn said the meeting was “useful, but inconclusive”, adding there had not been “as much change as (he) had expected” in May’s position.
Meanwhile, Chancellor Philip Hammond has suggested that he expects Brussels to insist on a lengthy delay to Brexit and described a public vote to approve any final deal as “a perfectly credible proposition”.
May wants to agree a policy with the Labour leader for MPs to vote on before April 10 – when the EU will hold an emergency summit on Brexit.
But if they cannot reach a consensus, she has pledged to allow MPs to vote on a number of options, including the deal she has negotiated with the EU, which has already been rejected twice by MPs.
In either event, May said she would ask the EU for a further short extension to Brexit in the hope of getting an agreement passed by Parliament before May 22, so that the UK does not have to take part in European elections.
Earlier, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker reiterated the EU’s position that Britain could get the Brexit deadline extended to May 22 if May could persuade MPs to approve her withdrawal agreement.
But if British MPs failed to agree on the deal, “no further short extension will be possible,” he warned, citing the risk of jeopardising the European Parliament elections in late May.