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Theresa May suffered a historically ominous defeat when Parliament rejected her deal by 230 votes.
After postponing the vote for her Brexit plan in hopes to rally more supporters, Theresa May's deal to leave the E.U. was rejected by the largest margin in government history. On Tuesday, Parliament panned Brexit by 230 votes in a ballot that's been dubbed the "Meaningful Vote."
May contributed a last minute entreaty to the debate: "This is the most significant vote that any of us will ever be part of in our political careers. After all the debate, all the disagreement, all the division, the time has now come for all of us in this house to make a decision. A decision that will define our country for decades to come." She added, "Together we can show the people we serve that their voices have been heard, that their trust was not misplaced.
The intense rejection of May's deal bodes ominously for the Prime Minister, signaling a sore lack of confidence in her ability to govern for the best of the country. The vote was originally scheduled for December 11, but May's administration delayed out of fear that they would suffer the precise crushing defeat that occurred Tuesday evening. It was previously thought that a rejection of that magnitude would precipitate a resignation from the sitting prime minister. Yet May has made it clear that she intends to keep her seat in power.
In response, the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, stated, "This is a catastrophic defeat. The house has delivered its verdict on her deal. Delay and denial has reached the end of the line." Corbyn then tabled a no-confidence motion to be debated in the House of Commons on Wednesday, with the results due at 7PM. After a motion of no-confidence, MPs must vote whether they agree "that this House has no-confidence in Her Majesty's Government." If a majority of May's opposition vote against her, then the government has 14 days to reform itself without her.
So May could very well be fighting for her job within the next 24 hours. However, there is no set protocol for how the government would move on from a no-confidence motion. May could call for an early general election, but two thirds of lawmakers would need to vote in favor of that motion. As it is, it's likely that May will retain her position, with the Democratic Unionist party expected to back her.To be clear, the steps for Brexit have already been set in motion. The government has already filed to separate from the EU, and they have 10 remaining weeks until March 29 to renegotiate. If British lawmakers cannot settle on an agreement, then the deadline will pass and the U.K., currently the second-largest economy within the EU, will be on its own before the international community.
Many British politicians are calling for vote of no confidence.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that her administration has come up with a 585-page draft agreement that will form the basis for the UK's exit from the EU. She is now facing backlash in response to the draft. Among the objections are concerns over the apparent lack of clear guidelines as to whether UK citizens will be able to work and live in the EU, the state of the Irish border under the new deal, and that the UK will pay at least £39bn to the EU to cover all its financial obligations once the deal is agreed upon. May has critics on both sides of the aisle, and those who think the UK needs to make a hard Brexit fear "an agreement on the EU-UK land border will tie the country to the EU's customs union and parts of the single trade market."
In response to the deal, big name ministers have resigned from the cabinet, including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, who says he quit over "fatal flaws" in the agreement. Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey has also resigned, saying the Brexit deal "does not honor" the result of the referendum where a majority of Brits voted to leave the EU. Junior ministers Suella Braverman and Shailesh Vara quit the cabinet in protestation as well.
Dominic RaabBusiness Day
Now, May might face a vote of no confidence from the House of Commons, a measure that, if successful, would remove her from power. For the motion to proceed, 48 Conservative MPs—that's 15% of May's own party—must write letters of no confidence. May would then be replaced by someone of her party's choosing. However, if a new MP is not chosen within a period of 14 days after the vote, parliament would be dissolved and a General Election is triggered.
The leader of the labor party, Jeremy Corbyn, is also hoping for a vote of no confidence. In a party-wide email, he wrote, "After two years of bungled negotiations, the government has produced a botched deal that breaches the prime minister's own red lines, does not meet our six tests, and will leave the country in an indefinite halfway house without a real say." He went on to say, "If parliament votes down this shambolic Tory deal—as seems likely—this will represent a loss of confidence in the government. In those circumstances, the best outcome for the country is an immediate general election that can sweep the Tories from power and deliver the Labour government this country desperately needs."
Jeremy CorbynThe Independent
At a press conference on Thursday, May stood by the deal, saying she "believes with every fiber of my being" that the Brexit deal is the right choice. She went on to say that, "Leadership is about taking the right decisions, not the easy ones. As Prime Minister, my job is to bring back a deal that delivers on the vote of the British people. Do I believe this is a deal which does deliver that, which is in the national interest and am I going to see this through? Yes."