British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan suffered a brutal 432-to-202 vote defeat in the House of Commons on Tuesday, sending the country’s economic future further into chaos as just 10 weeks remain until the so-called “hard Brexit,” wherein Britain would be forced to leave the European Union without a deal in place.
May’s plan, which came after two years of negotiations with the European Union, faced unified opposition from the opposition Labor party and 118 of May’s fellow Conservatives. The margin of 230 votes against marked the biggest parliamentary defeat for a government in British history — far supplanting the previous 1926 mark of 166 votes against.
Following May’s crushing defeat, Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn cited the “sheer incompetence of this government” before announcing a motion of no confidence for Wednesday. If the motion were to pass, which analysts say is unlikely, it could lead to a new general election.
Speaking to the BBC, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon said that the government should extend the the May 29 deadline for a Brexit deal to “take away any risk of the U.K. crashing out without a deal.” She also called for a second referendum, to determine whether the majority of British citizens still wanted to leave the E.U, noting that her own constituents had never voted to leave in the first place.
“Historic defeat for the PM and it has been obvious for months that it was coming,” she wrote on Twitter. “Scotland voted to remain in the EU and we should not be dragged out against our will.”
Historic defeat for the PM and it has been obvious for months that it was coming. Enough time has been wasted. It is time to stop the Article 50 clock and put this issue back to electorate. Scotland voted to remain in the EU and we should not be dragged out against our will.
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) January 15, 2019
According to experts, it is more or less unprecedented in modern history for a British prime minister to not resign after losing a vote — let alone by such a dramatic margin — on their flagship policy. But May survived a leadership challenge from her own party in December — making her safe from another such challenge until next year — and appears unlikely to step down. Addressing lawmakers after the vote, May pledged that the government would continue to pursue a Brexit deal with “a constructive spirit.”
“I’ve always believed that the best way forward is to leave in an orderly way with a good deal and have devoted much of the last two years negotiating such a deal,” said May. “Every day that passes without this issue being resolved means more uncertainty, more bitterness and more rancor.”
May added that she would seek to revise the deal until it was passable by the Commons before attempting to resume negotiations with the European Union — despite the fact that E.U. negotiators have said they will not consider further concessions.