Sat | Jul 24, 2021

May stays, but still beset by Brexit

Published:Wednesday | January 16, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during a debate before a no-confidence vote in the House of Commons, London, yesterday.


British Prime Minister Theresa May survived a no-confidence vote in Parliament yesterday to remain in office but saw more of her power ebb away as she battled to keep Brexit on track after lawmakers demolished her European Union (EU) divorce deal.

May won a narrow victory, 325 votes to 306 votes, on an opposition motion seeking to topple her government and trigger a general election.

Now it's back to Brexit, where May is caught between the rock of her own negotiating red lines and the hard place of a Parliament that wants to force a radical change of course.

After defeating the no-confidence motion, May said she would hold talks "in a constructive spirit" with leaders of opposition parties and other lawmakers in a bid to find a way forward for Britain's EU exit.

Legislators ripped up May's Brexit blueprint Tuesday by rejecting the divorce agreement she has negotiated with the EU over the last two years. That it would lose was widely expected, but the scale of the rout - 432 votes to 202, the biggest government defeat in British parliamentary history - was devastating for May's leadership and her Brexit deal.

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn responded with the no-confidence motion and urged the government to "do the right thing and resign".

May, who leads a fractious government, a divided Parliament and a gridlocked Brexit process, said she was staying put. May said an election "would deepen division when we need unity, it would bring chaos when we need certainty, and it would bring delay when we need to move forward."