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Defeat of Brexit deal to ‘weaken’ May’s authority

London, Thursday

British Prime Minister Theresa May staked everything on getting her Brexit deal, and its rejection by MPs has left her authority severely damaged.

The Conservative leader had already sparked anger and frustration at home and in Brussels for taking the Brexit talks down to the wire.

These have now been shown to have failed, with dozens of her own MPs voting for a second time to reject her EU withdrawal agreement.

“The PM has lost all control. If she had an ounce of decency she’d resign,” said opposition Labour lawmaker Lou Haigh.

British MPs voted to reject a no-deal Brexit on Wednesday, prompting PM Theresa May to announce she will put her EU divorce plan to parliament for a third time in the coming days.

After her defeat, May continued to insist that her deal was the best option, but said she would—as promised—allow MPs now to vote on whether to leave the EU with no deal.

But faced with the prospect of another rebellion, she said Conservative MPs can vote as they choose — a move that commentators said showed how little authority she had over her party.

“For a government not to be able to whip its MPs on one of its absolutely central policies is not exactly… normal,” noted Alice Lilly, senior researcher at the Institute for Government.

May has made much of her reputation for toughness, gleefully adopting a colleague’s description of her as a “bloody difficult woman”.

But her efforts to seek changes to her own divorce deal just weeks before exit day on March 29, and despite EU warnings that her demands were impossible, has tested MPs’ patience.

Pro-European ministers staged a revolt, demanding May offer a vote on delaying Brexit rather than allow Britain to leave with no deal at all.

Meanwhile many eurosceptics are livid at her failure to deliver the decisive divorce she had promised. “This is a total failure of leadership,” said leading Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage after Tuesday’s vote.    

May took office after the 2016 referendum, and despite having campaigned to stay in the EU, embraced the cause with the mantra “Brexit means Brexit”.  – AFP

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