Just 24 hours after resoundingly rejecting her Brexit plan, the United Kingdom House of Commons voted to keep Prime Minister Theresa May in power in a narrow 19 vote margin. May has struggled since her ascension to Prime Minister to rally a strong base within Parliament and the no-confidence vote only cements evidence of the current divide in British politics. If the vote had succeeded, it would have almost certainly forced a resignation from May and the calling of a new general election.
The vote is tied very strongly to the issue of Brexit; May’s administration has struggled to negotiate an adequate deal that would appease both Liberals and Conservatives but her proposed deal suffered a historic rejection—432 to 202—a defeat that ordinarily would lead to the resignation of the Prime Minister but May has, as the New York Times reported, a unique “ability to soak up political punishment and survive.” The failure of the plan is particularly stressful as the deadline for passing a Brexit deal is March 29 of this year, giving May only two months to come up with a solution in a distinctly divided country.
“This government has failed our country. It cannot govern, it cannot command the support of the people, facing the most important issue at the moment, which is Brexit” said opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, who brought the no-confidence vote to the table.
The leader of the SNP party in Westminster, Ian Blackford, has written to Mr. Corbyn urging to bring back the idea of a second referendum on Brexit back to the table, stating, “We must see concessions from the prime minister, as well as Jeremy Corbyn, to break the Brexit impasse.”
Brexit has become a true test of U.K. democracy with very real consequences on the line—if negotiated improperly, Brexit could potentially cripple the country’s economy. Since the referendum, politicians have been split on how to deal with Brexit, with some calling for a complete removal of the U.K. to others pushing a second referendum to re-vote on leaving the European Union, not to mention the position of the EU itself, which has shown little inclination to reaccept the U.K. if it were to vote to stay.
The failure of the no-confidence vote has meant May stays in power and she has indicated she is strongly against calling another referendum, stating to parliament, “It would deepen division when we need unity, it would bring chaos when we need certainty and it would bring delay when we need to move forward.” While the deadline of Brexit looms, the necessity of cooperation has never felt so desperate yet so difficult.
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