New Delhi: Britain’s government suffered another setback Wednesday as lawmakers voted to force it to announce within three sitting days what steps it will take next if its Brexit deal is rejected by parliament next week as appears likely.
The contentious amendment was passed by 308 votes in favour to 297 against, a day after lawmakers delivered another blow to Prime Minister Theresa May by voting to scupper a no-deal Brexit.
May has so far refused to retreat from her unpopular deal, which envisages close trading ties with the EU, but without any say on policy as Britain has now, after leaving in March. Instead, she has pressed ahead with a vote she looks set to lose after failing to win over her nominal Northern Irish allies.
Losing the vote would deepen the uncertainty over the future of Brexit, Britain’s biggest shift in foreign and trade policy for more than 40 years, and open the way for several different outcomes, ranging from a disorderly exit to another referendum. Lawmakers voted 308-297 on Wednesday in favour of demanding the government come up with an alternative plan within three working days after the Jan. 15 vote, rather than a planned 21-day limit.
There were turbulent scenes in parliament when some in May’s Conservative Party accused the speaker of bias. Responding to the vote, Brexit minister Stephen Barclay told parliament it was the government’s intention to act quickly if May’s Brexit plan was rejected on Tuesday.