London / The UK House of Commons voted 432-202 Tuesday against the Brexit plan negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May with the European Union.
Moments after the vote, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn called for a vote of no-confidence in the Conservative government and debate on that motion will begin Wednesday.
More than 100 Conservatives rebelled against their party’s discipline on the vote to oppose the pact of the prime minister, who has suffered the biggest parliamentary defeat inflicted on a British government in modern times.
If May weathers the no-confidence motion, she plans to launch a round of meetings with Corbyn’s Labor and the other parties in Parliament to explore possible alternatives to her accord.
The Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, which has been propping up the minority Conservative government, insisted this week that it would not support a no-confidence motion, and so May was confident that she would win the vote.
“It is clear that the House does not support this deal but tonight’s vote tells us nothing about what it does support,” May said after learning the result of the vote, which – for the moment – paralyzes the process of ratifying a pact that has been approved by the other 27 EU members.
On March 29, the UK will abandon the EU, according to the schedule established by Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon and British legislation.
If a pact is not ratified, however, either London and Brussels will agree on an extension or on that date an non-negotiated breakdown of the talks will occur.
The most euroskeptical Conservatives are demanding that May return to Brussels to seek new concessions, in particular regarding the backstop designed to prevent the reestablishment of a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and the UK province of Northern Ireland.
May argued on Tuesday that the backstop is necessary as insurance to “guarantee” that there is no hard border in Northern Ireland, a situation that would undermine the 1998 Good Friday Accords.
The prime minister also said she was against calling early general elections.
“The government has heard what the House (of Commons) has said tonight, but I ask members on all sides … to listen to the British people, who want this issue settled, and to work with the government to do just that,” May told lawmakers.
Meanwhile, the initial EU reaction to the events in Parliament gave no indication that the bloc was willing to re-open negotiations.
“I take note with regret of the outcome of the vote in the House of Commons this evening,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement.
He described the draft withdrawal argeement as “the best possible deal” and “the only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.”
“I urge the United Kingdom to clarify its intentions as soon as possible. Time is almost up,” Juncker said. (January 15, EFE/Practica Español)
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