U.K. Lawmakers Reject ‘No-Deal’ Brexit, and Defy Theresa May Yet Again



Stephen Castle | New York Times

LONDON — Having twice thrown out Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, the fractious British Parliament defied her again on Wednesday, worsening the power vacuum atop British politics just 16 days before the exit is scheduled to take place.

Parliament voted to oppose the prospect of a disorderly “no-deal” exit from the bloc, doing it in a dramatic and unexpected fashion that undercut the already-battered Mrs. May’s dwindling authority and negotiating leverage.

And the breakdown of discipline in her own Conservative Party renewed speculation that her own cabinet could try to force her from power.

No other prime minister in recent British history has been so unable, repeatedly, to work her will in Parliament. Nor have the backbench members of a ruling party felt so free to rebel openly against their leader.

Under pressure, Mrs. May had agreed to a motion asking lawmakers to vote that they opposed leaving the European Union as scheduled, on March 29, unless an agreement with the bloc were in place.

Instead, and against her wishes, Parliament voted against leaving the European Union without a deal at any date, with members of her own government rebelling.

Though it was nonbinding, the vote was another harsh blow to Mrs. May. A critical part of her strategy has been to play for time and use the fast-approaching threat of a chaotic, disorderly and economically damaging exit as leverage to get reluctant lawmakers to back her deal.

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