It began with May holding a previously delayed vote on her negotiated Brexit agreement with the EU, which British lawmakers rejected by a record-breaking margin—the kind that, in normal times, would have almost certainly resulted in the prime minister’s resignation.
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But these aren’t “normal times,” and May isn’t your average prime minister. She survived a vote of no confidence called by the opposition Labour Party against her government, weeks after getting past another vote of no confidence, that one called by her own Conservative colleagues.
That May continues to survive without the governing majority or authority to get her deal through Parliament is a testament to how far some of her Brexit deal’s biggest opponents—including the hard-line Brexit supporters within her own Conservative Party and their partners in the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party—will go to stave off a general election. Though they might not like the prime minister’s deal, they like the idea of a Jeremy Corbyn–led Labour government even less.
But it’s also emblematic of just how divided lawmakers remain over how, or even if, Britain’s departure from the EU should happen. The only parliamentary majorities that exist are those who oppose May’s deal (which is the only agreement the EU says it will consider) and those who oppose leaving the EU without a deal altogether (which is the legal default should the U.K. fail to agree to an alternative plan by March 29).
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So what happens next? The truth is that no one, least of all the prime minister, seems to know. After a week of cross-party talks with opposition lawmakers about the government’s next steps, May announced her plan last week: to return to Brussels to seek further concessions. If May’s latest plan sounds familiar, that’s because it is: The prime minister has already appealed to the EU to make changes to the deal, to little avail. The bloc said in a recent statement that it would not agree to changes to the withdrawal agreement.
Lawmakers have spent the past several days debating and adding amendments to May’s proposal, which will go up for a formal vote this week. Should they agree to her plan, then she will return to Brussels (though what she will accomplish there is unclear). If not, other seemingly impossible scenarios will likely be considered, including postponing Britain’s exit date or holding a second referendum. And with them, more crunch weeks will surely follow.
The only realistic certainty is that this won’t be the last crunch week facing Brexit Britain. There won’t be time for many more of them, either.