Britain’s exit from the European Union was thrown into turmoil on Tuesday when the withdrawal agreement negotiated by the bloc and Theresa May’s government was soundly rejected by the House of Commons.
In a major embarrassment for May, MPs voted 432 to 202 to reject the deal, just over two months before Brexit is due to take place. Those who voted against the deal included 118 MPs from May’s own Conservative Party.
The Opposition Labour Party tabled a no-confidence motion as soon as the scale of the government’s defeat was announced. .
Immediately after the vote, Mrs May said that if a vote of confidence was presented, it would be debated on Wednesday. If the vote of confidence was won by the government, she would hold talks across of the House to seek consensus. “We must focus on ideas which are genuinely achievable,” she said, adding that she would then discuss them with the EU.
She said she would continue to work so that the UK did not leave the EU without a deal, but she still intended to deliver Brexit.
The defeat raised fresh questions over May’s political future, although her conservative government is expected to win the no-confidence vote.
But the vote raises even deeper questions on the future of the Brexit process itself.
The Labour Party is calling for a general election and a new government to re-negotiate the Brexit deal, but the European Union says it is not keen to reopen talks in any substantive manner.
Other alternatives include a second referendum – which May is vehemently opposed to – an extension of the Brexit date for possible fresh negotiations, a ‘no deal’ Brexit which will see the UK and the EU parting ways without any agreement, or ending the Brexit process altogether.