Theresa May’s deal has gone down in flames. In what must have been a totally expected result, the withdrawal agreement was voted down by a massive 432 votes to 202 – the biggest defeat suffered by a government in Parliamentary history. Mrs. May certainly doesn’t do anything by halves.
Now, the future of Brexit is anybody’s guess. We leave the European Union on the 29th March, and without a deal, we simply leave without a deal – but, if Nicky Morgan MP and others have their way, the amended finance bill won’t allow us to leave without a deal. So where does that leave us?
Jeremy Corbyn has put forward his idea – he wants a new general election to decide the fate of Brexit. Immediately after the vote was lost last night, Corbyn tabled a vote of no confidence that is due to take place today. It doesn’t seem like he has much of a chance of winning, though – if a vote of no confidence in the government will do anything, it’s unite the Conservative Party. It’s quite astonishing that Corbyn can better unite the Tories than their own leader can. So, I expect when this vote takes place around 19:00 tonight, the government will win.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t questions to ask, though. After such a gigantic loss by the Prime Minister, why doesn’t she resign? The only reason she is likely to win the support of her party in the vote tonight is the fear of a Corbyn government – but that can’t be the basis of a functioning and effective government. She’ll win, she’ll stay in office, but she’ll struggle to pass any deal in parliament unless she starts negotiating with the other parties.
So, that’s what I expect she’s going to do. There’s no way she can unite her own party around a Brexit deal, so she’ll have to start reaching out to Labour again. Interestingly, this gigantic defeat might have even strengthened her hand with the European Union. While they’ve already told us that they’re not willing to renegotiate the deal, the fact that Parliament overwhelmingly rejected it might just be the kick up the arse they need in order to start rethinking the deal. We know Brussels doesn’t want No Deal.
Following the crushing defeat in the Commons, May has said that she will now reach out to “senior parliamentarians” across party lines in order to find a Brexit consensus that will be popular on both sides of the house. Commons leader Andrea Leadsom also said that the Prime Minister is seeking more “constructive” and “positive” ideas that will allow her to get her deal through parliament. It’s interesting to see the government continuing to push her deal, as opposed to suggesting they’ll draw up something completely new. I wonder just how much Theresa May can really achieve with a slightly tweaked deal.
May has until Monday to return to the Commons with her “Plan B” alternative deal. That isn’t much time at all – but if the European Union know what’s good for them, they’ll offer concessions. They should be willing to do it, too – after all, Theresa May wants Britain to remain as closely tied to the European Union as possible. Surely that’s a better result for the EU than No Deal.