MPs have voted to extend Brexit beyond 29 March, until at least June, by backing a government motion which May was forced to agree to if her own Brexit plan was defeated again, as it was on Tuesday.
The amendment decrees that the government will seek agreement with the EU for an extension to article 50 beyond that date. It was passed by 412 votes to 202.
The Brexit deadline is legally binding – and can’t be extended without the agreement of all 27 other EU countries.
If accepted by all the 27 other EU member states, it means that the United Kingdom will not leave the EU on March 29 as originally scheduled.
However, if the House of Commons does not approve a deal by Wednesday, the UK government will be forced to ask for a much longer delay, in order to create time to find a new way forward, the prime minister has said.
In other votes on Thursday, the government narrowly defeated a hugely significant amendment which would have given MPs power to control what should happen next if May failed to get her deal through.
The amendment – tabled by senior backbench MPs including Labour’s Hilary Benn and Yvette Cooper – would have paved the way for “indicative votes” on a series of alternatives to May’s deal, including a softer Brexit.
The House of Commons rejected it by 314 votes to 312, giving the government a majority of just two votes.
Earlier MPs comprehensively rejected an amendment tabled by the Independent Group’s Sarah Wollaston, which called for Brexit to be delayed in order to hold a new referendum, by votes 334 to 85.