What's next for the UK? Parliament rejects EU withdrawal deal 391-242
Nayan Seth, Feng Ran
With just 17 days left before Britain exits the European Union (EU), British Prime Minister Theresa May has suffered another blow in Parliament which is her second big defeat in the last three months. What happens now? There are two crucial votes that may decide the UK's future course of action: A no-deal vote and a delay vote.
On Wednesday, MPs will vote on leaving without a deal. If it passes, the UK would crash out of the European Union on March 29 with no arrangement with the bloc, which would also mean a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, a scenario that a majority of the MPs oppose.
Experts say Parliament is expected to reject this possibility too, as it would likely be economically catastrophic for the UK. Staunch Brexiteers would back this vote, but they don't seem to have the necessary numbers.
A second rejection would open the possibility of a third and final vote on Thursday where lawmakers would decide whether to delay the exit date. An extension that would require a separate approval from the EU. Observers believe a delay is among the most likely possibilities, but the duration of such a delay is uncertain. Theresa May asserts extending the deadline won't really change anything.
She says, "Let me be clear, voting against leaving without a deal and for an extension does not solve the problems we face. The EU will want to know what use we will make of such an extension."
UK MPs are sharply divided on when, how and even whether to proceed with Brexit, and whether to call an election or a second referendum
The British government could even evade the March 29 deadline unilaterally, but only by revoking its decision to leave the EU, a step May has resisted for a long time.
But there are many questions that remain unanswered. One of them is what happens if MPs reject a no-deal Brexit, as well as the delay. Another is if a delay is approved, what new compromises the EU could even offer the UK. And could Theresa May personally survive yet another political defeat and retain her hold on power?