LONDON — In a last-ditch effort to attempt to get Parliament to move her plan for Britain to go away the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday supplied to step down and permit one other prime minister who has the boldness of her occasion and lawmakers to negotiate the ultimate particulars.
Mrs. May’s beautiful overture to her fellow Conservatives got here simply as Parliament tried to sideline her and provide you with its personal plan for Brexit, as the method of leaving the bloc is thought.
But when lawmakers held a collection of nonbinding votes on Wednesday night time on eight totally different choices for Britain’s future relationship with the European Union, none mustered a majority.
Mrs. May is so unpopular and has misplaced a lot authority inside her occasion that her provide to step down, if her plan is authorized, was greeted with aid by Tory lawmakers.
“I have heard very clearly the mood of the parliamentary party,” Mrs. May informed Conservative lawmakers gathered in a gathering room in Parliament. “I know there is a desire for a new approach, and new leadership, in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations, and I won’t stand in the way of that.”
Several previous critics, together with Boris Johnson, the previous overseas secretary, stated they might now again Mrs. May’s plan, which Parliament has already overwhelmingly rejected twice. But it nonetheless faces lengthy odds.
Plenty of hard-line Brexit supporters had been holding out, and extra vital, so was the Conservatives’ ally, the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland.
If lawmakers appear unified across the concept of Mrs. May’s departure, nothing else is definite.
In the nonbinding votes, the most well-liked choices had been motions to keep in a customs union with the bloc and to maintain a referendum on any Brexit deal that’s lastly hammered out.
Mrs. May’s plan would preserve customs and commerce preparations with the European Union till not less than the top of 2020, and in the end envisions slicing most of these ties.
But it doesn’t element what would change them, leaving open the very important query of Britain’s relationship to the European Union.
If Mrs. May’s plan is authorized, the battle over the small print of Brexit will probably be fought first in a management wrestle within the Conservative Party after which by all the opposite events and factions which have scrapped with each other all through the final two years.
The prime minister didn’t specify when she would step down. But the European Union has authorized an extension within the Brexit course of to May 22, if her plan gained approval, and that date may grow to be the beginning of the management contest, which has been unofficially underway for a while already.
The eight choices that lawmakers voted on had been chosen by the Speaker of the House, John Bercow, together with a number of that will maintain Britain carefully tied to the European Union, in a so-called delicate Brexit.
All of that is unfolding earlier than an more and more annoyed and cynical public that’s asking questions on British democracy and the political elite, and whether or not both is able to governing within the nationwide curiosity. In the meantime, the world seems to be on at Britain’s follies in bewilderment.
“If you compared Britain to a sphinx, the sphinx would be an open book by comparison,” Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, informed the European Parliament on Wednesday at a gathering in Strasbourg, France. “Let’s see how that book speaks over the next week or so.”
Since changing into prime minister in 2016 with ambitions to sort out social divisions, Mrs. May has been dragged down by the Brexit quagmire and, after shedding her parliamentary majority in a 2017 election, has seen her authority ebb away.
Her advisers had urged her to provide to step down as the one manner to garner sufficient votes to power her plan via Parliament. Many Conservative lawmakers have misplaced confidence in her management, and the strongly pro-Brexit faction needs one in every of its personal to oversee the subsequent, crucial spherical in negotiations with the European Union.
Lawmakers have already twice rejected the Brexit settlement that Mrs. May painstakingly negotiated with the European Union, every time by giant margins.
But time is short, and Europe has grown frustrated with the deadlock. Under the terms of the postponement, if Parliament does not accept Mrs. May’s deal, the new deadline will be April 12.
The European Union is “expecting the United Kingdom to indicate a way forward,” Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said at the meeting in Strasbourg.
But European leaders reiterated that they were still open to a long Brexit delay — perhaps two years — if, as Mr. Tusk said, “the U.K. wishes to rethink its Brexit strategy.”
That delay would have to be agreed to by the April 12 deadline.
Mrs. May’s plan could return to Parliament later this week if she gets more pledges of support like that of Mr. Johnson’s.
But most important for the plan’s fortunes is the opinion of the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, or D.U.P., whose 10 lawmakers usually support the government but currently oppose Mrs. May’s Brexit blueprint.
Her plan contains a “backstop” to ensure against a hard Irish border that the party has vehemently resisted, saying it would lead to the dissolution of the United Kingdom and the unification of Ireland.
One influential Brexit hard-liner, Jacob Rees-Mogg, said on Tuesday that he would back Mrs. May’s plan if the D.U.P. went along. With that seeming increasingly unlikely, on Wednesday he said he would vote in favor if the party merely abstained.
On Wednesday, the leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, a Conservative lawmaker, told the BBC there was a “real possibility” that Mrs. May’s plan could return for a vote as soon as Thursday.
Still, a third effort to pass it would be a very tall order. Mrs. May would need to win the support of about 70 lawmakers who have already voted against it twice.
If she managed that, she would almost certainly have quashed Parliament’s rebellion and ensured that at least some form of Brexit would take place relatively soon.
Wednesday’s votes were never expected to yield a firm result. There is a better chance of that happening on Monday, when Parliament is expected to vote again on the most popular options from Wednesday’s voting.
If that happens, lawmakers will then seek to forge a proposal that a majority can at least live with, and answer critics who complain that while Parliament knows what it doesn’t like, it has been incapable of saying what it does.