After five hours of debate, MPS voted 344 to 286 to reject a Government motion which would have approved the draft Withdrawal Agreement.

A House of Commons library paper on the debate stated the following in the instance where the Commons does not approve the Withdrawal Agreement:

“If the UK Parliament does not approve the WA [Withdrawal Agreement], the Council Decision provides that the legal default is that the UK will leave with no deal on 12 April 2019. However, it is expected that the UK Government will give an indication of a way forward to the European Council before then.

To depart from that legal default outcome one or more of three things must happen:

  • a withdrawal agreement must be ratified before Article 50 expires on 12 April;
  • a further extension of Article 50 must be agreed; or
  • the UK must unilaterally revoke Article 50.

The Council Decision made clear that, if the UK was still a Member State on 23-26 May 2019, it would be required to participate in the European Parliamentary elections.

It follows that an extension beyond 22 May 2019, if agreed by the European Council and the UK Government, would involve such an undertaking being made.

In practice, such an undertaking would have to be given considerably earlier than 22 May 2019. This is because UK legislation requires at least 25 working days’ notice before polling day for a European Parliamentary election.7

This partly explains why, in the absence of approval for the Withdrawal Agreement the European Council only offered an extension until 12 April: it is the latest point at which a decision would have to be taken about the UK’s participation in those elections.”

Regarding the EU’s response to UK MPs rejection of a Government motion to approve the draft Withdrawal Agreement, European Council President Donald Tusk has tweeted that he is calling an emergency European Council meeting on 10 April.