British Prime Minister Theresa May withstood a parliamentary “no confidence” vote on Wednesday keeping, for now at least, her efforts for a U.K. exit from the European Union on track, if not any less contentious and fragile.
The results of the vote, tallied shortly after 9 p.m. U.K. time, were 200 for May; 117 against. The prime minister successfully wooed a majority of her often-skeptical Conservative Party colleagues, in part, by announcing that she would step down from her post prior to 2022 elections. The vote, seen as a strong (although not necessarily forceful) validation of May’s efforts, was of a large enough margin to eliminate the possibility that she might garner a majority of support, yet still resign if that margin was near a 50 percent threshold.
In March 2017, the United Kingdom, after a ballot referendum, notified the European Council of its intention to leave the European Union, in accordance with Article 50 of the treaty that established the coalition of member states. A draft Brexit plan, announced by May earlier this month, was roundly criticized by MPs, leading to the cancellation of a ratification vote that was initially planned for Tuesday of this week.
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party and a staunch critic of May’s handling of Brexit negotiations with the European Commission, said the vote “makes no difference to the lives of our people.”
“The Prime Minister has lost her majority in parliament, her government is in chaos, and she is unable to deliver a Brexit deal that works for the country and puts jobs and the economy first,” he said in a statement. “That’s why she pulled the vote on her botched Brexit deal this week and is trying to avoid bringing it back to parliament. It’s clear that she has not been able to negotiate the necessary changes in Europe. She must now bring her dismal deal back to the House of Commons next week so Parliament can take back control.”
Meanwhile, on Thursday, there will be a special meeting of the European Council to discuss Brexit and how to facilitate U.K. ratification of the withdrawal agreement. Leaders will also discuss their preparedness for a no-deal scenario, according to Donald Tusk, president of the European Council.
“It is clear that EU27 wants to help. The question is how,” he wrote on Twitter. “We will not renegotiate the deal, including the backstop, but we are ready to discuss how to facilitate U.K. ratification.”