Theresa May faces no-confidence vote after historic defeat on Brexit deal

https://abcnews.go.com/International/theresa-faces-confidence-vote-historic-defeat-brexit-deal/story?id=60411833

British Prime Minister Theresa May will face a no-confidence vote in her government today after suffering a historic defeat in Parliament over her flagship Brexit deal.

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The vote was tabled by the leader of the opposition Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn on Tuesday evening moments after Members of Parliament heavily voted down the government’s Brexit deal, 432-202.

If a majority of MPs vote against the government, May will be forced to resign, which could trigger a general election. Parliament will debate the no-confidence motion for six hours beginning around 8 a.m. EST, with the vote scheduled immediately afterward.

PHOTO: Britains Prime Minister Theresa May talks with UK Border Force officers as she visits their Command Centre during her visit to Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport in west London on Dec. 19, 2018.Pool via AFP/Getty Images
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May talks with UK Border Force officers as she visits their Command Centre during her visit to Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport in west London on Dec. 19, 2018.

Although 118 MPs in May’s own Conservative Party voted against her Brexit deal, the prime minister is expected to survive the no-confidence vote.

Conservative MPs, despite opposing the Brexit deal, are believed to fear the prospect of a general election. If the government wins the vote, May will remain, not leave.

In the lead-up to Tuesday’s crushing defeat, May’s deal was criticized by politicians and pundits on all sides of the political spectrum. Some argued May’s deal would mean that the United Kingdom would be too closely tied to the European Union for the indefinite future, while others suggested the deal would damage the economy and lead to job losses.

PHOTO: Anti-Brexit protesters use illuminated signs as they demonstrate with placards outside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, Dec. 10, 2018, in London.Christopher Furlong/Getty Images, FILE
Anti-Brexit protesters use illuminated signs as they demonstrate with placards outside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, Dec. 10, 2018, in London.
PHOTO: A picture shows Union flags, stickers and banners with slogans as campaign materials at a political rally organised by the pro-Brexit Leave Means Leave group in central London on Dec. 14, 2018.Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images, FILE
A picture shows Union flags, stickers and banners with slogans as campaign materials at a political rally organised by the pro-Brexit Leave Means Leave group in central London on Dec. 14, 2018.

After Tuesday’s defeat, the prime minister said she would listen to politicians’ concerns and seek better terms with EU leaders.

However, the final majority for Tuesday’s vote was 230 against, meaning the prime minister has the backing of less than a third of the House of Commons for her flagship deal. The defeat was the biggest government loss in a parliamentary vote in more than 100 years, according to the think tank Institute for Government.

May has spent the better part of two years negotiating with EU leaders.

PHOTO: EU heads of state attend a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels, Nov. 25, 2018. European Union leaders are gathering to seal an agreement on Britains departure from the bloc next year. Olivier Hoslet/Pool Photo via AP
EU heads of state attend a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels, Nov. 25, 2018. European Union leaders are gathering to seal an agreement on Britain’s departure from the bloc next year.

Jean Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, the EU’s main political body, expressed his “regret of the outcome of the vote” on Tuesday evening.

“The risk of a disorderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom has increased with this evening’s vote,” he said in a statement. “While we do not want this to happen, the European Commission will continue its contingency work to help ensure the EU is fully prepared. I urge the United Kingdom to clarify its intentions as soon as possible.”

The deadline for the U.K. to leave the European Union is March 29. If Parliament cannot agree to a deal or the deadline isn’t extended, the U.K. could leave the EU with “no deal,” which most politicians and businesspersons agree would be disastrous.

“Time,” Junker added, “is almost up.”