A parliamentary rejection of Theresa May's Brexit deal adds little clarity about what comes next as the Brexit deadline draws nearer.
UNITED NATIONS – The British parliament rejected a Brexit deal negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday, setting up a challenge to her leadership and throwing Britain’s future relationship with the E.U. in doubt.
Lawmakers shot down May’s Brexit proposal by a margin of 230 votes, and she crucially lost the support of 118 members of her ruling Conservative Party, who voted with opposition lawmakers, many of whom have very different notions about how Brexit ought or ought not to occur.
Moments after the vote, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for debate on a no-confidence vote on Wednesday, which could see May sacked as prime minister, followed by a new general election.
“The people need to be able to take back control and a general election would given them the opportunity to decide who their MPs were, who their government was and who was negotiating on their behalf.”
Conservatives who voted against May’s Brexit deal may well stand by her if it means keeping Corbyn out of power, but it’s hard to see a path for the current government to craft a satisfactory Brexit deal, given that the Conservative caucus is being pulled from the right and left.
Comments from three Conservative MPs before Tuesday’s vote helped to illustrate those deep divisions.
MP Michael Wood held out hope a better deal could still be negotiated:
“The government must listen to genuine concerns across this house and the deal that it comes back to this house with must genuinely take back the control the people voted for in 2016. I will support that work starting tonight.”
MP Matt Marwan disagreed, saying that while May’s deal was imperfect, rejecting it would boost those who wish to cancel Brexit:
“When I vote with the prime minister tonight I do so because I am committed to Brexit, and voting against this deal puts winds in the sails of those who seek to stop it.”
And May argued the opposite of that, saying that killing her deal raised the likelihood that the U.K. crashes out of the E.U. in March with no agreements in place:
“I hope that those who fear leaving without a deal, whose constituents rely on manufacturing jobs, think very carefully about rejecting a deal that is the only guaranteed way to take ‘no deal’ off the table.”
The saying goes that time heals all wounds, but it’s not clear more of it will help resolve Brexit.