Theresa May’s planned Brexit deal has suffered a major defeat in the UK parliament, leaving the Brexit process in disarray.
Mrs May began the day with renewed hope after securing last-minute changes to her withdrawal deal with the EU.
But MPs roundly defeated her proposals, 391 votes to 242, weeks after her first attempt to pass the deal met the same fate.
Had the vote gone her way, the UK would be preparing to leave the EU on 29 March.
That exit date still looms large, but things could go a few different ways before then.
The next step is… another vote (this one on Wednesday). MPs will vote on a motion on whether to allow the UK to exit the EU on 29 March without a deal – a so-called “disorderly” or “no-deal” Brexit.
Leaving the EU without a deal – and therefore without the 21-month transition period provided for by the deal – carries significant risks for trade, immigration, health, and more, and parliament will almost certainly reject that possibility.
Rejection of a no-deal Brexit would then set up… yes, you guessed it: another vote.This one would decide whether Mrs May will go back to the EU to request an extension to Article 50 – the formal name for the notification from the UK that it is leaving the union.
That would throw the Brexit ball into the EU’s court – potentially allowing the union to decide the terms of any extension period.