British would have to decide how to proceed before this date: Heiko Maas

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After the recent no vote in the British Parliament on the Brexit Treaty of Prime Minister Theresa May, concerns about a disorderly EU exit from the country are growing. “We are running out of time to prevent a disorderly Brexit,” warned Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Friday.

A spokeswoman for EU Commission said in Brussels that Britain’s chaotic exit on April 12 was “now a likely scenario”. Business representatives complained of continuing uncertainty.

On the day of Britain’s originally planned EU exit, 344 MPs voted against Brexit’s May-negotiated agreement, 286 for. The refusal will have “serious” consequences, May said Friday, warning of a tough one  UK and EU membership referendum on the 12th of April. “This government will continue to promote an orderly Brexit demanded by the outcome of the referendum.”

May’s spokesman fueled speculation from government officials that the prime minister wants to put her agreement to a vote in Westminster a fourth time. He pointed out that the difference between yes and no votes to the Brexit Treaty in January was 230, the beginning of the month at 149 and now at 58 votes. May is looking for a way to win parliament in a fourth vote.

In the lower house are scheduled for Monday and Wednesday further trial votes on alternatives to Mays Brexit plan. Last Wednesday there were already a number of such “indicative votes”. For none of the eight alternatives was a majority in parliament. But observers think it possible that MEPs could agree on one of the variants that had done the best. This includes the proposal that Britain could remain permanently in a customs union with the EU or that the British could decide on the Brexit agreement in a second referendum.

However, the time is running out: after Parliament rejected the agreement, May must explain to the EU how the Brexit issue should be resolved. A British request to stay longer in the EU would be linked to participation in the European elections in late May. This has been rejected by May so far. EU Council President Tusk announced a special summit of EU heads of state and government on 10 April.

A spokeswoman for the EU Commission said in Brussels that in the case of a tough Brexit, the EU is “under no circumstances” prepared to offer Britain benefits similar to those in the exit agreement or “mini-deals” in certain areas. The EU was “fully prepared” for a disorderly exit on 12 April at midnight.

Federal Foreign Minister Maas warned that the British would have to decide how to proceed before this date. “Otherwise, it is the no-deal Brexit, as hard as that would be.” The French presidential office also said that the British government must “urgently submit an alternative plan in the coming days”. “If this does not happen, then the most likely outcome is that Britain is leaving the EU without a contract.”

After months of chaos surrounding Brexit, the authority of Prime Minister May is badly damaged. With her resignation in return for parliamentary approval, she unofficially launched the race for her successor at the head of her conservative Tory party. For some time there have been demands for early elections.