Wednesday's vote was just the latest defeat for Prime Minister Theresa May as she tries to delivery an orderly E.U. exit by month's end.
UNITED NATIONS – British lawmakers voted Wednesday to block a “no-deal Brexit” from occurring later this month should they fail to agree on terms governing the U.K.’s future relationship with the European Union.
By a vote of 321 to 278, members of the House of Commons handed Prime Minister Theresa May yet another political defeat, just a day after they voted by a considerably wider margin (391 to 242) against a Brexit agreement she painstakingly negotiated for months with E.U. officials.
As a result, May’s options for delivering Brexit have significantly narrowed and a delay to the entire Brexit process looks all but inevitable.
Speaking moments after Wednesday’s vote, May said she’d be willing to ask the E.U. for a “limited technical extension” to the Brexit withdrawal lasting until June 30, but only if lawmakers can miraculously agree on a Brexit deal by next Wednesday.
If that doesn’t occur, she warned Brexit could be delayed much longer.
“The House has to understand and accept that, if it is not willing to support a deal in the coming days, and as it is not willing to support leaving without a deal on 29 March, then it is suggesting that there will need to be a much longer extension to article 50. Such an extension would undoubtedly require the United Kingdom to hold European parliament elections in May 2019.”
It’s unclear that threat will do much to rally support for May’s own Brexit deal. Instead, her losing streak in parliament appears to have the vultures circling.
Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn:
“The Prime Minister said the choice was between her deal and no deal. In the last 24 hours, parliament has decisively rejected both her deal and no deal.”
“Parliament must now take control of the situation.”
Parliament will vote Thursday on a short Brexit delay, and if May’s opponents have their way the day could also see a range of votes on various other Brexit options, in an effort to build a better compromise deal.
There may be 16 days to go until Brexit, but things appear to be just getting started.