British Prime Minister Theresa May’s leadership is hanging by a thread after her Brexit proposal suffered a crushing defeat for a humiliating third time.
Having crow-barred a slightly changed version of the much-hated Brexit deal into parliament, Theresa May has – on the day she promised more than 100 times that Britain would leave the EU – suffered a further humiliating defeat, with this likely to be the last straw for what has been a desperate reign of futility.
The 58-vote defeat immediately led EU President Donald Tusk to announce an emergency meeting of all European heads of government on April 10, just two days before the UK is set to leave the bloc on April 12, under an extension granted last week.
Meanwhile, in the markets the sterling fell sharply against the dollar before rallying slightly.
There had been a faint hope the deal – which this time focused solely on the 600-word agreement, and not the political declaration – might limp through out of sheer desperation.
After May was forced to promise her colleagues she would have nothing to do with the next stage of the Brexit negotiating process and would step down before then, scores of rebel MPs who had previously slammed the deal as leaving the UK as a “vassal state” of the EU switched sides to support it, including former foreign secretary Boris Johnson and Conservative leadership hopeful Dominic Raab.
But with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) again failing to give it their backing, large numbers of her own Tory party still wildly opposed to it, and Labour slamming the deal as a “half-baked Brexit,” it was again rejected in spectacular fashion.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for May to step down immediately and initiate a general election to put an end to the chaos engulfing the country.
His view was echoed by May’s fellow Conservative Steve Baker, the deputy chair of the pro-Brexit European Research Group, who said:
“This must be the final defeat for Theresa May’s deal. It has not passed. It will not pass. I regret to say it is time for Theresa May to follow through on her words and make way so that a new leader can deliver a withdrawal agreement which will be passed by parliament.”
At a meeting of the Conservative backbench group, the 1922 Committee, on Wednesday night, Baker had told colleagues he would like to bulldoze the House of Parliament “into the river” to put an end to the mess that has left the UK the laughing stock of the world.
The Guardian reported that he said:
“I’m consumed with a ferocious rage after that pantomime [May in the ‘22] …What is our liberty for if not to govern ourselves? Like all of you I have wrestled with my conscience about what to do. I could tear this place down and bulldoze it into the river. These fools and knaves and cowards are voting on things they don’t even understand. We’ve been put in this place by people whose addiction to power without responsibility has led them to put the choice of no Brexit or this deal.”
It’s a view shared by millions across the UK who are fed up with the inability of politicians to get anything done on Brexit.
Where do we go from here? The answer is anybody’s guess.