British MPs have passed an unprecedented vote to take control of Brexit from Prime Minister Theresa May in a bid to find their own solution to the chaotic process.
The vote, put forward by Conservative MP Oliver Letwin, came after Ms May admitted earlier Tuesday that her own Brexit deal – negotiated with the EU after two years of talks – had not chance of passing the House of Commons.
The House is now expected to vote on a range of Brexit options on Thursday (Australian time), including a possible move to retain closer ties to Brussels.
The so-called Letwin vote underlined to the extent Ms May has lost her authority over Parliament and the Brexit process.
In a further blow to Ms May’s leadership, three of her ministers resigned to vote against her government’s handling of the Brexit process.
Pro-EU business minister Richard Harrington, Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt and Health Minister Steve Brine all stepped down amid key votes.
While Ms May said Thursday’s proposals to be put to “indicative” votes, would not be binding, they will provide substantial leverage to dissenting MPs looking for alternatives to the PM’s unpopular deal.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who Letwin proposal, said the government “must take the process seriously”.
“The government has failed and this House must, and I believe will, succeed,” the Opposition Leader added.
MPs backed the Letwin vote by 329 votes to 302, and were almost certain to confirm their decision in the final vote of the evening on the overall “motion as amended”.
Earlier, Ms May said the proposal would set an unwelcome precedent and could lead to support for an outcome to which the EU itself would not agree.
“No government could give a blank cheque to commit to an outcome without knowing what it is,” she said before the vote.
So I cannot commit the government to delivering the outcome of any votes held by this house.”
Last week, the EU agreed to delay Britain’s original March 29 departure date because of the deadlock.
The UK will now leave the EU on May 22 if Ms May’s deal is approved by Parliament this week. If not, it will have until April 12 to outline its alternate plans.
European Council President Donald Tusk said last week that all Brexit options were still open for Britain until April 12, including a deal, a departure with no deal, a long extension, or even revoking Article 50 and remaining in the EU.
One of the options likely to be voted on this week is a second referendum on Britain’s departure from the EU.
In a stark departure from Ms May’s oft-repeated stance, UK Chancellor Philip Hammond on Monday admitted a second referendum was a “coherent proposition” that deserves consideration.
His comments marked the first time a senior Cabinet minister has spoken about such a move as a viable possibility.
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) March 23, 2019
Massive crowds flocked to an anti-Brexit protest march in London on Sunday, with organisers claimed more than one million people attended.
And an electronic petition designed to cancel Brexit altogether passed the 5 million signature mark later Sunday.