[UPDATE: The EU has issued what seems like a pretty hardline statement in response to the vote, saying that the ball is entirely in the UK’s hands now to come up with something definite by the April 12 deadline but that a no-deal outcome seems most likely. The statement says that they are prepared for a no-deal exit and will not accept any half-baked proposals. They have scheduled a meeting of EU leaders on April 10 to evaluate whatever May comes up with, though given how things are going, parliament may still be voting up until the 12th.]
The British parliament voted just now to defeat Theresa May’s stripped down Brexit plan by a margin of 344 to 286, a smaller margin than the previous two votes but still a significant defeat. The deadline now shifts to April 12 by which time parliament will have to give the EU a definite plan that can consists of: revoking Article 50; requesting a very long delay of the order of years; or leaving with no deal. The first two options would involve the UK taking part in the EU elections later this year, something that the Brexiteers strenuously oppose.
On Monday, parliament will vote on a series of more indicative votes to explore the possibility of coming up with the fourth option, that consists of an actual plan for leaving that can pass parliament. Although this is a theoretical possibility, it is hard to imagine it being pulled off, especially with May at the helm.
A BBC reporter said he asked a member of Theresa May’s cabinet before the vote about the reasoning behind her bringing up the vote today when it was likely to go down and got an absolutely scorching response about how May operates, saying that the reason for this colossal debacle can be laid squarely at her feet due to a leadership style that leaves pretty much everyone around her in the dark about what she is planning to do.
Of course, we are now at the stage where everyone will try to wash their hands of any responsibility so this cabinet member’s comments have to be weighed accordingly. But it is consistent with what has been known for a long time about May’s maddeningly inscrutable style. Inscrutability is fine if you are a strategic and tactical genius biding your time for the correct moment to speak and act. But in May’s case, ones senses that there is no there there, that inscrutability seems to be a cover for not knowing even in her own mind what she wants to do, resulting in the Maybot taking over.
And the Maybot seems to be firmly in control, with her continuing to hold on to the party leadership and thinking that she can find a way out of this mess, even though pretty much everyone she has been talking with, from the EU leaders to even in her own cabinet, seem to think she is hopeless.