Prime Minister Theresa May faced the prospect of a historic defeat in a vote on her Brexit deal in parliament on Tuesday potentially leaving Britain in limbo about the biggest political and economic change for the country in decades.
Barely two-and-a-half months before Britain is due to leave the EU, May’s expected defeat leaves open a range of outcomes, from resurrecting her deal, leaving the EU with no deal at all or holding another referendum that could halt Brexit altogether.
The prime minister’s hopes of keeping her widely unpopular plan alive will hinge on the scale of her expected loss. A comparatively narrow defeat could allow her to try again, but a loss by 100 votes or more would most likely be seen as dooming the plan for good.
As Britain’s deepest political crisis for at least half a century built to a head, a spokesman for May said she would respond quickly to the result of the vote.
He also said there had been no discussion at a meeting between the prime minister and her cabinet on Tuesday morning of delaying Brexit beyond the March 29 deadline.
May says accepting her deal is the only way parliament can fulfill its promise to deliver on the 2016 vote to quit the EU, and failing to do so would be “catastrophic” for democracy. Her ministers pressed that message on the morning of the vote.
“The British people have placed a responsibility on us,” Environment Secretary Michael Gove told BBC radio. “Are we going to live up to that responsibility and vote to leave the European Union or are we going to disappoint them and damage our democracy by not voting to leave the EU?”
REUTERS, 15th JANUARY, 2019