Thu, Jan 17, 2019 - Page 1 News List

May faces vote of confidence after Brexit loss

AFP, LONDON

British Prime Minister Theresa May, fourth left, and British lawmakers attend the announcement of a vote on the Brexit deal in London on Tuesday.

Photo: Reuters

British Prime Minister Theresa May was expected to win a confidence vote yesterday, despite a crushing defeat over her Brexit deal that triggered warnings of a chaotic “no deal” divorce.

British lawmakers on Tuesday rejected May’s deal, leaving the process in limbo just 73 days before the official departure date.

May suffered the biggest government defeat in modern British history when the House of Commons rejected by 432 votes to 202 the deal she struck with Brussels last year after 18 months of negotiations.

The EU said that the vote raises the risk of a hugely disruptive “no deal” Brexit, in which Britain could sever ties with its biggest trading partner overnight.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker urged London to “clarify its intentions as soon as possible,” while European Chief Negotiator for the United Kingdom Exiting the EU Michel Barnier said he “regretted profoundly” the vote.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered May some hope, saying: “We still have time to negotiate, but we’re now waiting on what the prime minister proposes.”

Ireland said that it would intensify preparations for a “disorderly Brexit.”

May struck a conciliatory tone after the vote, promising cross-party talks to try and salvage a workable Brexit deal before returning with a new plan on Monday.

The prime minister’s own backbenchers rebelled in huge numbers over the deal, but the ringleaders said they would still back her in the confidence vote scheduled for about 7pm.

“We are going to vote with the government... Of course the Conservatives are going to support the Conservative government,” Brexit-supporting Member of Parliament (MP) Steve Baker told the BBC.

The motion was tabled by opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who wants to force a general election.

May’s parliamentary allies in Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party have led the charge against her Brexit deal, but do not want a Labour government.

After the defeat, French President Emmanuel Macron said that “the pressure” was mainly on Britain to find a solution, but suggested there might be room to “make improvements on one or two things.”

However, Coveney told RTE’s Morning Ireland: “I don’t think the EU is any mood to agree changes to the withdrawal treaty.”

Anand Menon, professor of European Politics at King’s College London, told reporters that the EU “will be thinking hard about whether it’s worth offering concessions given the number of MPs the prime minister has to win over.”

Increasing numbers of pro-European MPs are calling for a second referendum with an option to cancel Brexit.

Yesterday, 71 Labour MPs signed a letter calling for a public vote, while Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that it was the “only credible option.”

Speculation is also growing that May could ask to delay Brexit whatever happens, which she has denied.

The pound edged down yesterday morning, but mostly held its ground as investors considered the next likely developments.

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