LONDON (AFP) – British MPs resoundingly rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal for a second time on Tuesday, plunging the country into further uncertainty just 17 days before it is due to split from the European Union.
The House of Commons voted 391-242 against the divorce deal, even after May secured further guarantees from Brussels over its most controversial elements.
The move risks unleashing economic chaos, as Britain is scheduled to end ties with its biggest trade partner after 46 years on March 29, no matter what.
Appearing before MPs in a voice half-breaking due to a cold, May defiantly vowed to fight on, saying she ‘’profoundly’’ rejected the outcome.
‘’The deal we’ve negotiated is the best and indeed the only deal,’’ she told the hushed chamber moments after the vote.
May promised to allow MPs to vote on a ‘’no deal’’ option on Wednesday and, if that is rejected as expected, to decide on Thursday whether to ask the EU to delay Brexit.
She said parliament faced ‘’unenviable choices’’ if it voted for an extension, including revoking Brexit, holding a second referendum or leaving with another deal.
However, eurosceptics believe the current deal is so bad that it is worth the risk of leaving with no plan.
The latest vote comes two years after Britain set the clock ticking on its departure from the EU following a highly divisive referendum in 2016.
Michel Barnier, the EU chief Brexit negotiator, said Brussels had nothing more to offer and must now brace for the possibility of a messy divorce.
‘’The EU has done everything it can to help get the Withdrawal Agreement over the line,’’ Barnier tweeted. ‘’The impasse can only be solved in the #UK. Our ‘no-deal’ preparations are now more important than ever before.’’