Prime Minister Theresa May’s EU withdrawal deal has been rejected by MPs for a second time, propelling the government’s Brexit strategy into disarray.
MPs voted against her deal by 391 to 242, a smaller defeat than the same deal received in January but still a major defeat for the government, which now has little room for manoeuvre.
The government managed to convince 235 Conservative MPs, three Labour, and four independent MPs to support its deal, but 75 Conservatives voted against the government alongside 238 MPs from Labour, 35 from the SNP, 11 Liberal Democrats, 11 from The Independent Group (TIG), 10 from the DUP, four from Plaid Cumru, one Green, and six independents.
In the wake of the defeat, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn demanded the PM call an election, while others from across the parties pushed her to put Brexit back to the public in a People’s Vote.
Now the rejection of May’s deal has been confirmed by parliament, May said MPs will vote on Wednesday on whether the UK should leave the EU without a deal on 29 March. The PM said Conservatives would have a free vote on the motion, and few MPs from other parties are expected to lend their support.
Announcing the free vote, she told MPs: “This is an issue of grave importance for the future of our country.
“Just like the referendum there are strongly held and equally legitimate views on both sides.
“For that reason, I can confirm that this will be a free vote on this side of the House.”
If the Commons rejects a no-deal Brexit as expected, a vote will be put to MPs on whether to ask the EU for an extension to Article 50 in order to try and find a solution to the impasse. Possible options to be discussed during the delay could be a third attempt to pass May’s deal, a general election, or a People’s Vote.