Uncertainty looms after Brexit defeat in UK’s Parliament

UPDATE — 2:17 p.m. EST: British Prime Minister Theresa May won a vote of “confidence” in her Conservative Party’s government by a parliamentary vote of 325–306 late Wednesday evening local time in London.


In an expected but sharp rebuke to Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday, a bill to approve the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union (EU) failed to pass in the House of Commons.

A resounding defeat, May’s grand strategy to validate the June 23, 2016, referendum to end decades of ties with the European economic bloc failed by a vote of 432–202.  The 230-margin loss incurred by May is one of the widest in British history for a sitting prime minister.

In sum, three Labour Party and three Independent Members of Parliament (MPs) joined 196 Tory MPs voting “yes”.

Spearheaded by 248 Labour MPs voting against, 118 Tory MPs were aided by 65 additional votes from Green, Welsh Plaid Cymru, Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist and Liberal Democrat MPs to ensure the bill’s loss.

Following the vote, a defiant Ms. May lambasted renegade Tories and Labour MPs voting in opposition to the motion and laid out a plan of action for the immediate future.

The parliamentary vote came after a day of intense debate over four key articles in the motion, most of which revolved around continued payments to the EU after the exodus, freedom of movement to and from the U.K. for British and EU members, the U.K.’s continuing involvement with European Courts of Justice and full independence from EU trade regulations.

Among the larger hurdles is the “backstop,” or the return of custom checks at the border Northern Ireland shares with Ireland.  Critics of May’s plan say the “backstop” would be a painful reminder of continued bonds with the EU.

Others, like the Scottish National Party leader, Nicola Sturgeon, oppose Brexit across-the-board and are calling for May to delay the official “leave” date, currently scheduled for March 29.

May’s loss is not without further consequences:  Following the defeat, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn triggered a no-confidence vote on Ms. May which is expected to occur late Wednesday.

Despite the bill’s defeat, and although it is certain the prime minister will survive a no-confidence vote, May has vowed to continue to lead the U.K.


Editor’s note: The original article has been updated since first publication.


[Reuters] [BBC] [The Guardian]