[UPDATE: All eight indicative votes were defeated, all but one of them (a pro-Remain one) by hefty margins, so we seem to be back to square one. I have been watching the livestream of the parliament with great interest. MPs are struggling to figure out what to do next, given the Friday deadline. Pressure is being put on the speaker to allow a third vote on May’s plan but he seems unmoved.]
British prime minister Theresa May has said that she will step down as leader before the next phase of Brexit negotiations, presumably as a last-ditch effort to get recalcitrant Conservative MPs and the DUP to back her plan.
“I have heard very clearly the mood of the parliamentary party. I know there is a desire for a new approach – and new leadership – in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations and I won’t stand in the way of that,” May said, according to a transcript released afterwards.
“I know some people are worried that if you vote for the withdrawal agreement, I will take that as a mandate to rush on into phase two without the debate we need to have. I won’t; I hear what you are saying. But we need to get the deal through and deliver Brexit.
“I am prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended in order to do what is right for our country and our party.”
She did not give a date for her departure though, and since she cannot bring up her plan for a third vote without substantive changes, things remain somewhat murky. Her announcement also serves as the starting gun for a free-for-all for the party leadership that is now going to consume a lot of the political oxygen. While she did not rule out staying on as party leader if her plan is defeated, I cannot see it as a serious possibility. Her rivals for the leadership know she is on the ropes and are not going to let up the pressure on her to quit.
Meanwhile in the long-running drama that is Brexit, British MPs are voting today on eight so-called ‘indicative measures’ that are supposed to give people a sense of where parliament stands on the issues. This article explains how the process will unfold and that we should have the results by about 6:00pm Eastern US time US.