British lawmakers crushed Prime Minister Theresa May’s European Union divorce deal on Tuesday, thrusting Britain deeper into crisis and forcing parliament to decide within days whether to back a no-deal Brexit or seek a last-minute delay.
MPs voted against May’s amended Brexit deal by 391 to 242 as her last-minute talks with EU chiefs on Monday to assuage her critics’ concerns ultimately proved fruitless.
The vote puts the world’s fifth largest economy in uncharted territory with no obvious way forward; exiting the EU without a deal, delaying the March 29 divorce date, a snap election or even another referendum are all now possible.
May might even try a third time to get parliamentary support in the hope that hardline eurosceptic MPs in her Conservative Party, the most vocal critics of her withdrawal treaty, might change their minds if it becomes more likely that Britain might stay in the EU after all.
While she lost, the margin of defeat was smaller than the record 230-vote loss her deal suffered in January.
MPs will now vote at 1900 GMT on Wednesday on whether Britain should quit the world’s biggest trading bloc without a deal, a scenario that business leaders warn would bring chaos to markets and supply chains, and other critics say could cause shortages of food and medicines.
The European Union said the risk of a damaging no-deal Brexit has “increased significantly” but there would be no more negotiations with London on the divorce terms.
Sterling, which had earlier in the day fallen by 2 percent to 1.3005, was trading at around 1.3086 against USD and at 1.1572 against the Euro shortly after the vote.
Reuters contributed to this article