British Prime Minister Theresa May suffered a crushing defeat on Tuesday when her plan for the U.K.’s exit from the European Union, commonly referred to as Brexit, was rejected by Parliament with just ten weeks until the country’s scheduled departure.
The 432-to-202 vote to reject her plan was one of the biggest defeats in the House of Commons for a prime minister in recent British history, and it underscores how under Ms. May, the prime minister’s office has lost ground in shaping important policy. Now factions in Parliament will seek to seize the initiative, an unpredictable new stage in the process of withdrawing from Europe, known as Brexit.
In her final appeal in Parliament, Mrs. May impressed on the lawmakers the importance of the vote facing them. “The responsibility on each and every one of us at this moment is profound,” she said, “for this is a historic decision that will set the future of our country for generations.”
As political chaos continues and the deadline nears, lawmakers are suggesting increasingly wreckless alternatives to May’s plan: a redo of the referendum, which could result in a vote to stay; or leaving on March 29 without a withdrawal plan in place.
Experts have warned a Brexit with no withdrawal agreement would likely lead to food shortages and an economic downturn, the Times noted.
Mrs. May will now face pressure to allow Parliament to vote on options other than her Brexit plan, a fuzzy middle way that keeps different economic possibilities open for the future but also restores the power to control immigration within the European Union.
Alternatives include proposals to adhere more closely to the European Union’s economic rule book, by remaining in a customs union with the bloc, or going further and staying within its single market. But that would involve obeying more European rules, abandoning the idea of conducting an independent trade policy, and possibly allowing the free movement of European workers.