Theresa May government survives no-confidence vote after historic Brexit defeat

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's government won a confidence vote in Parliament on Wednesday, clearing the way for her to attempt to forge a consensus among lawmakers on a Brexit divorce agreement.

May's Brexit agreement was created to keep trade rules between the world's fifth-biggest economy and its largest export market nearly unchanged for a transition period running through the end of 2020.

European leaders are now preparing for the worst - even though German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was still time for further Brexit talks. But critics said she was not budging from a deal that had alienated all sides of the debate.

He dismissed the notion that May might get a substantially better deal if she goes back to Brussels, saying "if there was anything else one could have offered Britain it would have had to have been done in the last weeks".

Downing Street said May will come back to parliament with a new Brexit proposal on Monday.

"The House has spoken and the government will listen", May said after the vote, which leaves her Brexit plan on life support just 10 weeks before the country is due to leave the European Union on March 29. "This increases the possibility that Britain will ask for an extension to Article 50 - i.e., a delay of Brexit past the official 29 March date - while it tries to figure out something that they can all agree on", said Marshall Gittler, chief strategist at ACLS Global, in a note to clients.

'You are not going to get it if you rely only Conservative and DUP votes and what she has been doing is trying to construct something that she can squeak through parliament with a non-existent majority and we saw last night it has failed'.

Meanwhile, the former leader and co-founder of UKIP, Nigel Farage, said Wednesday it was weird May had not resigned as prime minister following her defeat.

"That's why I am inviting MPs from all parties to come together to find a way forward". Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May's government, said it would support her.

The Labour leader restated his party's position: " [A no-deal Brexit] must be taken off the table, a permanent customs union must be secured and people's rights and protections must be guaranteed so they do not fall behind". Labour wants a permanent customs union with the EU, a close relationship with its single market, and greater protections for workers and consumers.

Experts widely expected MPs would vote against May's deal, putting the country in political and economic limbo.

May's deal faces widespread opposition, primarily because of language created to prevent the reintroduction of border controls between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which some fear will indefinitely tie Britain to the EU. In an open letter addressed to the prime minister, Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk committed to making sure "that the backstop will not need to be triggered".

"Time is nearly up", he said.

Barrier's comments on the European Union being open to agreeing on a more ambitious future relations plan could be seen as an effort to help May build a coalition in support of the deal in London and woe Labour MPs.

The humiliating rebuff was delivered in the House of Commons just moments after the Prime Minister made a last-ditch appeal for MPs to back the Withdrawal Agreement which she sealed with Brussels in November after nearly two years of negotiation.

"Good luck to the representatives of the nation who have to implement something that doesn't exist", Macron said.

The result of today's vote allows may to keep her post and present a new action plan regarding Brexit, which has been slated for 29 March this year.

Business groups have also expressed wide alarm at the prospect of a no-deal exit.

"If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?", he tweeted.

The pound rebounded from earlier losses on news of the plan for cross-party discussions. The provision was created to prevent the reintroduction of border controls between Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, a member of the EU.

  • Eleanor Harrison