May soldiers on as MPs plunge UK into chaos
Just 16 days before Brexit, the PM’s strategy lies in tatters after a second crushing loss, her authority in shreds. She insists she will not resign and nobody knows what will happen next.
“I profoundly regret the decision that this House has taken tonight,” said Prime Minister Theresa May, her voice croaky and failing.
May was speaking after MPs rejected her Brexit deal by 242 votes to 391 — a majority of 149.
It was an improvement on last time when she lost by 230 votes. Nevertheless, last night will still go down as one of the worst defeats in parliamentary history.
“Has there been a time in British history when a prime minister has lost on such a crucial vote, by so much, twice, and not resigned?” wondered journalist Andrew Neil.
Now, there is wide agreement on only two things: these are indeed unprecedented times, and May is determined to see Brexit out to the bitter end.
“The clock has run out on her,” declared Jeremy Corbyn after the results were announced.
The prime minister disagrees. Tomorrow, as promised, she will give Parliament the chance to vote against a no-deal Brexit. If they do so, a day later MPs will vote on whether to ask the EU to delay Brexit.
Amid all the confusion, some are wondering if Brexit will ever happen at all.
“You had it within your grasp,” Andrew Neil told arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg after the vote. “This was the night you lost Brexit.”
Is he right?
No way out
Should we cancel Brexit? Two years and nine months have passed since the referendum, but has anything been achieved? The only credible deal has been clearly and repeatedly rejected. There is no clear way forward from here. Is Brexit simply impossible?
But what about the 17 million people who voted for Brexit? Would cancelling it be a betrayal of their votes? Would it be better to hold a second referendum, or a general election, to give the people a say? Or should we bite the bullet and leave with no deal? Growing numbers think so.
- Should Brexit be cancelled?
- Write a news report on last night’s vote, including the numbers and quotes from important figures.
Some People Say...
“Of course Brexit means that something is wrong in Europe. But Brexit means also that something was wrong in Britain.”Jean-Claude Juncker
What do you think?
Q & A
- What do we know?
- Theresa May’s Brexit deal has been rejected by MPs by a large majority of 149 votes. Some 235 Tories voted in favour of the deal along with three Labour MPs and four independents.
- What do we not know?
- Once again, we are no closer to knowing if and in what manner the UK will leave the EU. If, as looks likely, the UK asks the EU to delay Brexit, it is not clear how long that delay might be.
- One of the worst
- Last night’s loss was the fourth worst government defeat in history. The worst ever was May’s defeat by 230 votes in January.
- When something has never happened before.
- MPs will be given a free vote, which means they can make their own minds up rather than being told to vote in line with their party.
- Jacob Rees-Mogg
- Chair of the pro-Brexit European Research Group.
- According to a ComRes survey, 44% want the UK to leave with no deal if the EU makes no more concessions.