The British parliament today resoundingly defeated by a margin of 391 to 242 prime minister Theresa May’s revised plan for Brexit. The feeling seemed to be that the new deal did not significantly differ from the previous one that she lost by an even heavier margin. Apparently she had expected a loss but hoped to contain the margin of defeat to less than 50 so this has got to hurt. Again the main sticking point was the so-called ‘backstop’ on Northern Ireland.
She has now scheduled a vote tomorrow on whether to move ahead with a so-called ‘no-deal Brexit’ where the UK leaves with no plans and procedures for what happens after separation and the UK will have to unilaterally decide on everything. That will be a glorious mess with a long period of uncertainty and confusion. If that is rejected, then there will be a vote on Thursday on whether to ask the EU for an extension on the March 29 deadline for crashing out. It seems likely that the last option is what will be pass and the EU will likely agree to an extension but what purpose it will serve is not clear, The only thing it might do is give her more time to schedule a second referendum, where I am assuming that May has the authority to call for one without getting parliamentary approval first. She could also call for a general election but that would imperil her own already shaky hold on power.
So the UK lurches from one bad situation to another, a self-inflicted wound caused by former prime minister David Cameron’s ill-advised decision to call for a referendum on a highly emotive but extremely complicated issue that was totally unsuited as a referendum question because of all its ramifications, and May’s inability to even stanch the bleeding let alone heal the wound.