Britain's House of Commons has rejected for a third time a withdrawal plan backed by Prime Minister Theresa May in a vote on the day Britain originally was scheduled to leave the European Union. Two-hundred-eighty-six lawmakers voted for the plan but were outvoted by the 344 votes against.
In response, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, has called a European Council meeting for April 10. The EU has given Britain until April 12 to let members know what it plans to do.
Leaving the EU with no exit plan could cause economic chaos.
On Wednesday, Parliament turned down 16 different alternatives to Prime Minister May's deal for Britain to split from the EU. Negotiators reduced that number to eight, which were brought to votes. The options included keeping Britain in a customs union with the EU, and one that would have put the question of leaving the EU to another voter referendum.
All final eight ideas were rejected, although the idea of entering into a customs union came closest to winning majority support. Another proposal, holding a second Brexit referendum, also garnered a great deal of support.
The House of Commons took over Brexit planning from Prime Minister May after she tried and failed twice to pass her deal. The contention over May’s plan centers on trade and the border crossing between EU member Ireland and British-controlled Northern Ireland, which local residents routinely cross daily without stopping.
Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party staunchly opposed the plan.
Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn responded to Friday's vote by asking if May "finally accepts" the deal will not pass in Parliament. He said members of Parliament will have the chance on Monday to decide on a "better deal for the future of this country." He said if May couldn't accept that, she must step down.
May said Wednesday she would step down as prime minister "earlier than I intended" if lawmakers adopt the plan she negotiated with the European Union.
"I know there is a desire for a new approach and new leadership in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations, and I won't stand in the way of that," she said Wednesday.
Britons voted nearly three years ago to leave the EU. But as last week's scheduled departure date grew near, so did turmoil over terms of the deal May negotiated with EU leaders.
Marissa Melton, Fern Robinson contributed.