UK Prime Minister Theresa May has lost a vote on her Brexit deal by a majority of 149 in a second meaningful vote in Parliament.
AYES – 242
NOES – 391
The way forward looks uncertain, but it is thought that MPs will get to vote on Wednesday on whether to accept the option of a no-deal exit.
Although she lost by less than the last time her deal went through Parliament, by historical standards, this is another unprecedented loss for a Government. Not only that, this is an embarrassment for the Prime Minister who has been keen to take personal ownership of the deal. However, the default legal position – the status of the backstop – proved the sticking point for some, if not all, the 391 MPs who categorically rejected this deal.
What happens next?
Speculation is rife.
For some, this is the deathblow for Brexit. For others, this was as much a rejection of Mrs May’s Premiership as it was Brexit. For the Independent Group, this proves that Party Politics is unworkable and unable to deal with a crisis as large as Brexit. For Chuka Umunna, their lead, now is the time to call a number of indicative votes in which the various options of Brexit can be discussed and voted on.
What we do know is that tomorrow, Wednesday 13 March, MPs will be back to vote on a No-Deal. It is expected that MPs will reject this.
Next, MPs may be offered a vote on a deadline extension. With EU elections upcoming, and newly elected MEPs sitting from July, any extension would only be until July. Anything longer, and the UK could have to field MEP candidates. Indeed, the confusion is over whether the EU 27 would allow such an extension – which is unlikely.
The truth, no one knows what is happening next. With around two and a half weeks left until departure day, on March, 29th, this is as close to a constitutional crisis as we have come this century.