CBC.CA – U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s government won a confidence vote in Parliament on Wednesday, clearing the way for her to attempt to forge a consensus among lawmakers on a Brexit divorce agreement.
Lawmakers voted 325 to 306 that they have confidence in May’s government, just 24 hours after they handed her Brexit deal a crushing defeat that left Britain’s exit from the European Union in disarray 10 weeks before it is due to leave.
With the clock ticking down to March 29, the date set in law for Brexit, the U.K. is now in the deepest political crisis in half a century as it grapples with how, or even whether, to exit the European project it joined in 1973.
But with MPs deadlocked on the way forward, the U.K. could face a disorderly “no-deal” Brexit, a delay to Brexit, or even another referendum on membership.
“Now MPs have made clear what they don’t want, we must all work constructively together to set out what parliament does want,” May said in a statement outside her Downing Street office.
“That’s why I am inviting MPs from all parties to come together to find a way forward.”
After the confidence vote, May met several party leaders, but the main opposition leader, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, refused to hold talks unless a no-deal Brexit was ruled out.
The votes on Tuesday and Wednesday brought into sharp relief the problem May faces. She is trying to win over pro-EU supporters in her own party and others without alienating those who keep her in power — for instance, by giving up the “no-deal Brexit” that they see as a crucial bargaining chip.
Hardline Conservative Brexit supporters, who last month made an unsuccessful attempt to oust her as leader, and the Northern Irish party that props up her minority government will not countenance a deal that keeps close ties with the EU.
“The confidence and supply arrangement [to support May] of course is built upon delivering Brexit on the basis of our shared priorities,” said Nigel Dodds, deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party.