Pound Rockets After May’s Crushing Defeat

On Tuesday 15 January, UK MPs voted to reject Theresa May's Brexit deal by a huge majority of 230 votes. At 432 to 202 votes, this is the heaviest parliamentary defeat of a British prime minister in history.

Source: The Guardian

Background on the Brexit vote

The Brexit vote was for May's proposed terms of the withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU, following the UK's 2016 public vote to leave the European Union.

The withdrawal agreement has taken over two years to negotiate and includes points such as how much the UK will have to pay the EU in order to break their partnership, what will happen to UK citizens living in the EU, as well as EU citizens living in the UK and how to avoid a physical border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

However, the negotiations have been beset by conflict and opposition from the UK House of Commons has rife throughout the negotiations, leading to the original vote being delayed while May sought support for the proposed terms.

Why did the majority oppose the deal?

There were a range of issues regarding the deal, but the biggest claim is that it failed to give back control to the UK of its own affairs.

A second sticking point is what will happen at the Irish border. Both the EU and the UK want to avoid the return of guard posts and customs checks at the Irish border, leading to something called the 'backstop' being drafted in the deal. However, this would mean Northern Ireland would remain under EU rule.

What happens now the deal has been rejected?

After the defeat, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn tabled a vote of 'no confidence' on Theresa May, which is scheduled for tonight, January 16.

If May wins, she will have three days to come up with alternative options for MPs which she said she would on Monday 21 January. However, if she loses the vote then the outcome is less certain - a general election could be called depending if a new government can be formed or a new confidence vote is won.

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