U.K. Parliament Reject May’s Deal
British lawmakers rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit divorce deal for a second time, making a delay in the U.K.’s scheduled March 29 departure from the European Union all but inevitable and intensifying political turmoil and business uncertainty.
The heavy defeat on Tuesday—by 391 votes against to 242 in favor—opens a new chapter in Britain’s chaotic exit from the EU, a process that has already cost banks and companies billions, riven British society and splintered its political landscape.
The deal was meant to set the terms of the end of the U.K.’s decades long membership in the EU and its separation from a bloc that represents half of all British trade. Mrs. May’s defeat makes it likely that Parliament will force the government to delay Brexit beyond the end of the month to allow for further negotiations as it prepares to hold votes on whether to radically alter her deal.
“I profoundly regret the decision that this House has taken tonight,” May said after the vote, which was one of the government’s largest defeats in the modern era. “I continue to believe that by far the best outcome is that the U.K. leaves the EU in an orderly fashion with a deal, and that the deal we have negotiated is the best, and indeed the only deal available.”
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said that the government “must accept its deal is clearly dead and does not have the support of this House. The Prime Minister has run down the clock and the clock has been run out on her,” he said, amid a raucous Parliament. “It’s time that we have a general election and the people can choose who their government should be.”
The U.K. has been in political chaos since British voters approved leaving the EU in June 2016. More than two years later, whether Britain will actually leave is in doubt — but it’s clear that the political casualties are only beginning.