Theresa May's Brexit deal suffers crushing defeat in Parliament — so what happens next?
16 January, 2019, 16:13
Prime Minister Theresa May's deal to leave the European Union suffered an overwhelming defeat in parliament on Tuesday, leaving the country's future in limbo and manufacturers bracing for their "worst-case scenario", a no-deal Brexit.
In the wake of Tuesday's vote, it didn't take long for Twitter users to weigh in.
The result of the vote gave May a massive mandate to go back to Brussels and renegotiate a new deal, said Boris Johnson, former British foreign secretary and ex-Mayor of London. The House of Lords votes 321-152 in opposition to her deal.
That would throw the Brexit timetable, with Britain due to end its membership of the European Union on March 29, into chaos.
Most immediately, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn may capitalise on a May defeat by tabling a motion of no confidence, possibly as soon as tonight.
The prime minister is expected to also face a backlash within her own party if her Brexit plans change.
If nothing else happens it will be a no-deal Brexit, This means - as you might expect - the United Kingdom leaving on 29 March without a formal agreement. It is hard to see any other proposal getting a majority in the House of Commons.
"Tonight's vote tells us nothing about what [Parliament] does support", she said, "nothing about how or even if it intends to honor the decision the British people took on a referendum Parliament chose to hold". A number of her Cabinet ministers have already made a decision to step down in protest of her plan, and Conservative whip Gareth Johnson tendered his resignation on the eve of the vote.
A key sticking point will be the deal's so-called "backstop" provision: a plan to keep open the border between Ireland (a member of the EU) and Northern Ireland, which is part of Britain.
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But if, as seems more likely, May soldiers on, then the next step is relatively clear: "The Parliament has given Prime Minister May three [working] days to come back with a Plan B", NPR's Frank Langfitt explained. If unable to do so, an early general election would be triggered. Realistically, she'll have to at least invite him to talk, though his office said on Tuesday evening that there was no future for anything based on May's deal.
European Union officials immediately said that plans to cope with a disorderly, no-deal departure on March 29, rife with the prospect of chaos on roads, airports and administration would be sped up.
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But they stressed Brussels is "not in a position" to rewrite or amend the agreement secured by the Prime Minister past year . The Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce said MPs most now "move beyond tactical manoeuvring".
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