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UK lawmakers allow indicative votes on Brexit alternatives; 3 ministers quit


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UK lawmakers allow indicative votes on Brexit alternatives; 3 ministers quit

British lawmakers approved a proposal March 25 that paves the way for "indicative votes" on March 27 on alternative options for the U.K.'s departure from the EU, effectively allowing lawmakers to seize control over what happens next.

The House of Commons voted 329-302 backing an amendment put forward by Conservative lawmaker Oliver Letwin seeking to allow lawmakers to determine whether there is a preferred path for Brexit. The chamber later approved the revised main motion in a 327-300 vote, reinforcing the Letwin amendment.

Business Minister Richard Harrington, Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt and Health Minister Steve Brine resigned from May's government in order to support the Letwin amendment, The Guardian and Bloomberg News reported. A total of 30 Conservative party members backed the amendment.

Separately, lawmakers voted 314-311 to reject an amendment proposed by Labour member of Parliament Margaret Beckett that would have required the government to give lawmakers a chance to either approve a no-deal Brexit or request a Brexit extension to find a different approach, if the U.K. is seven days away from leaving the EU without a deal.

Earlier on March 25, May told lawmakers that the government cannot commit to delivering the outcome of any of the indicative votes, warning that they could lead to a Brexit approach that is not negotiable with the EU.

The EU has offered to extend the March 29 Brexit date until May 22 if the U.K. ratifies a Brexit deal this week. But if lawmakers again refuse to approve a deal, London would have only until April 12 to decide on its course of action, including a no-deal Brexit.

May has admitted that her twice-defeated Brexit deal with the EU still lacks majority support to clear the House of Commons, warning that crashing out of the bloc without a withdrawal agreement remains the default path forward.

The alternative Brexit paths could include revoking Article 50, a second national referendum, opting for a standard trade agreement between the two sides, May's deal including retaining membership of the EU customs union, her deal including membership of the EU's customs union and the single market, and no deal.