BREXIT: 432 lawmakers overwhelmingly voted against it. (No Deal!)

LONDON — With just 73 days to go until Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union, lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected — by a vote of 432 to 202 — the withdrawal deal that had been painstakingly negotiated between Prime Minister Theresa May and the European Union.

The landslide vote was pure humiliation for a British leader who has spent the past two years trying to sell her vision of Brexit to skeptical public, and her failure increased doubts about how or whether Britain will leave the E.U. on March 29.

May stood almost alone in the House of Commons on Tuesday, as many in her own party abandoned their leader.

Historians had to go as far back as the 19th century to find a comparable party split and parliamentary defeat — to Prime Minister William Gladstone’s support for Irish home rule in 1886, which cut the Liberal Party in two.

“The events in Parliament today are really quite remarkable,” said Cambridge University political historian Luke Blaxill. “This doesn’t happen.” Meaning, usually British parties fight with one another in Parliament — but members don’t tear their own parties apart.

Jeremy Corbyn, the opposition Labour Party leader, called the loss historic and said May’s “delay and denial” had led to disaster. “She cannot seriously believe after two years of failure she is capable of negotiating a good deal,” Corbyn said.

He then introduced a motion of no-confidence, to be debated and voted upon on Wednesday.

Afterward, leaders of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May’s minority government, announced they would support the prime minister, thereby making her ouster unlikely.

Rob Ford, a professor of politics at Manchester University, stressed that these were strange times. “Normally, if you were looking at a defeat of 50-plus votes on the No. 1 item on the government’s agenda, then that would be it. Game over. The prime minister would be gone and the government would probably fall immediately. But that’s clearly not going to happen,” Ford said.

May called Tuesday’s vote in Parliament the most important in a generation. She told lawmakers that the choice was plain: support her imperfect compromise deal — and the only one that Europe will abide, she stressed — or face the cliff edge of no-deal Brexit.
Staring directly at Corbyn, May said that everyone who thought they could go to Brussels and get a better deal was deluding themselves.
But the vote against her deal was decisive.

A chaotic, no-deal departure could have harsh economic and humanitarian consequences for both sides. Some countries’ legislatures are halting ordinary business to pick up emergency laws to prepare.
E.U. policymakers and negotiators said they saw little they could do to try to ease any deal through the British Parliament. And at least one prominent voice suggested Britain might reconsider its divorce effort altogether.
“If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?” European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted.
The movement for a second Brexit referendum has been gaining strength in Britain. But the path to getting there remains long and complicated.
In any event, Britain may be forced to ask for extra time to work out its problems, and the March 29 departure date may no longer be realistic. An extension would require unanimous consent from the remaining E.U. countries.
“While there is no point in reopening negations, we need to do everything else to avoid a hard #Brexit,” wrote the head of the German parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Norbert Röttgen, on Twitter. “If vote is given back to people, UK should get more time.”
In the chamber at Westminster, the debate before the votes were cast on Tuesday was impassioned. As members hooted and jeered, the speaker gaveled them to be quiet, complaining of the “noisy and unseemly atmosphere.”

“The House must calm itself. Zen!” John Bercow shouted.

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