On Monday, when Parliament voted to seize control of the Brexit process away from Theresa May, British lawmakers were under the impression that they could do a better job of uniting MPs under a potential deal than the beleaguered prime minister. According to Wednesday’s vote, they were wrong.
To determine how the U.K. should proceed, Speaker of the House John Bercow selected eight possible measures to appear in front of the House of Commons, ranging from “soft Brexit” options that would keep the U.K. in a trade union with the E.U., to a second referendum over Brexit — which could entirely cancel the nearly three-year process — to a “no-deal” plan that would almost certainly plunge the nation into a recession. But the House couldn’t agree to anything.
There was good news for supporters of a minimally disastrous Brexit: a no-deal option was defeated by well over a two-to-one margin. The bad news? No other policy came close to passing. The winningest losers were plans to back a second referendum — in which the public would determine, again, whether or not the U.K. should leave the E.U. — and the customs union option, which proposes a “permanent and comprehensive U.K.-wide customs union with the E.U.” and lost by just eight votes.
What does Parliament want? As Daily Telegraph reporter Michael Deacon puts it, “the Commons has now overwhelmingly rejected every single type of Brexit, and no Brexit.” The only proposal the House of Commons agreed on was to kick the can down the road, voting 441 to 105 to delay Brexit until May 22, if a deal is made, or April 12 if Parliament goes with the “no-deal” option.
The historically unproductive vote came just hours after Prime Minister Theresa May announced that she would resign if Parliament could agree on a Brexit option. “I have heard very clearly the mood of the parliamentary party,” Mrs. May told Tory lawmakers. “I know there is a desire for a new approach, and new leadership, in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations, and I won’t stand in the way of that.”