The U.K. Parliament defeated Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit proposal for the second time on Tuesday.
Members nixed the proposal in a 391–242 vote, a smaller margin than the 432–202 defeat it suffered in January. The move sets up another crucial vote on Wednesday, in which MPs will decide whether to move forward with Brexit on March 29 despite the lack of a Parliament-approved agreement between the U.K. and the E.U. The outcome of that vote could then prompt a vote to delay Brexit.
Conservative MPs, only 75 of whom voted against the plan this time after 118 of them voted against it in January, will be able to vote freely going forward, May promised.
“This is an issue of grave importance for the future of our country,” May said. “Just like the [abortion] referendum there are strongly held and equally legitimate views on both sides.”
The prime minister warned members from both sides of the aisle not to make the “perfect the enemy of the good.”
“The government has been defeated again by an enormous majority and it must accept its deal is clearly dead and does not have the support of this House,” said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose party voted against the deal. “The prime minister has run down the clock and the clock has been run out on her. Maybe it’s time instead we had a general election and the people can choose who their government should be.”
“I am passionate about delivering the result of the referendum, but I equally passionately believe that the best way to do that is to leave in an orderly way with a deal and I still believe there is a majority in the House for that course of action,” May said.
Opponents of Brexit have warned that leaving without a plan will throw Britain’s economy into turmoil, while backers have dismissed those concerns as exaggerated.
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