LONDON — April Fools’ Day turned into Naked Fools’ Day as eco-extremists stripped off their clothes inside the House of Commons while Members of Parliament debated, and later shot down, solutions to break the Brexit deadlock.
A group of 12 activists from the group Extinction Rebellion were arrested early Monday evening after undressing, in front of MPs, to just their underpants in a bid to raise awareness about climate change and damage to the environment.
The stunt no doubt added a much-needed dose of humor to the proceedings, with MPs eventually voting down all four potential Brexit deals, which earlier in the day had been narrowed down from an original list of eight.
The deals they voted on included negotiating a permanent U.K.-wide customs union with the European Union as part of any future Brexit deal, and joining the European Free Trade Association and European Economic Area.
The other proposed deals were a confirmatory referendum, giving the public a vote to approve any Brexit agreement passed by Parliament before it can be implemented, and preventing the U.K. from leaving without a deal. The latter included a vote on whether to revoke Article 50, which would stop Brexit if the EU does not agree to an extension.
All four proposals were already defeated in Parliament last week, as was Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal proposal, for the third time. Monday night’s votes were only indicative and would have needed the backing of the government and EU leaders to be enacted.
MPs are racing against the Brexit clock, which will stop ticking on April 12 unless the U.K. can come up with a withdrawal solution that will pass muster with May’s government and EU officials.
More votes are scheduled to take place this week and MPs’ Easter Break, which was due to start in the next days, has been canceled until the deadlock is broken.
If there is no decision by April 12, the U.K. will crash out of the EU in a “disorderly” Brexit, causing chaos for businesses that rely on imports and exports. There is also talk of holding a snap general election, a vote of no confidence in the prime minister, and a new referendum.
The pound edged up slightly ahead of Monday night’s vote to $1.31, and held steady despite MPs’ failure to make any progress.