May’s Brexit plan defeated by 230 votes
特里萨•梅(Theresa May)达成的退欧协议——与布鲁塞尔方面艰苦谈判两年多的成果——周二晚在英国下议院(House of Commons)遭到432票对202票高票否决，这是一项历史性的失败。
Mrs May’s loss by 230 votes, one of the biggest defeats inflicted on any government in the past 100 years, sees the prime minister in a race against time to save her deal before Britain’s scheduled departure from the EU on March 29.
Eurosceptic Tory MPs believe Mrs May’s failure in parliament makes it more likely that Britain will leave the EU without any formal deal, allowing a “clean break” from Brussels. Greg Clark, business secretary, has warned that such a scenario would be “a disaster”.
Mrs May has until Monday to set out a plan to rescue her deal and is expected to travel to Brussels in the coming days to plead with the EU for more help in ratifying the 585-page withdrawal agreement.
Jeremy Corbyn called a vote of no confidence in the government after what he called a “catastrophic” defeat.
German foreign minister Heiko Maas confirmed on Tuesday that the EU was ready to provide more assurances to Britain over the contentious backstop plan for the Irish border: “If it goes wrong tonight, there could be further talks.”
However, the scale of Mrs May’s defeat suggests that the EU will have to offer strong legal assurances that the Irish backstop— which includes a “temporary” customs union to avoid a hard border — will not be permanent, if she is to change the mind of MPs.
Members of Mrs May’s cabinet have urged her to reach out to opposition Labour MPs to reach a compromise, while pro-European MPs are mobilising to force the government to rule out any Brexit until a withdrawal treaty is in place.
Mrs May pleaded with MPs to support her deal at the end of a five-day Commons debate, saying it was “the most significant vote any of us will have been part of in our political careers” and that it would define Britain “for decades to come”.
“A vote against this deal will be a vote for nothing more than uncertainty, division and the very real risk of no-deal or no-Brexit at all,” she told a packed Commons chamber, urging MPs to act “in the national interest”.
Labour is expected to table a motion of no confidence in the Conservative government in an attempt to force a general election, although Mrs May should win the vote with the help of the Democratic Unionist party.
With MPs threatening to seize control of Brexit from Mrs May’s stricken government, the prime minister has until Monday to convince parliament that she can still lead Britain to an orderly exit.
Within minutes of last night’s Brexit defeat, Mrs May’s top ministerial team, including chancellor Philip Hammond and Mr Clark, called business leaders to try to assure them that a Brexit deal was still possible.