British PM Theresa May loses key vote on Brexit procedure in parliament


Britain's government and its lawmakers were set to clash Wednesday, as Prime Minister Theresa May brought her little-loved Brexit deal back to Parliament, a month after postponing a vote on the agreement to stave off near-certain defeat.

But Commons Speaker John Bercow sparked fury from Tory MPs by allowing the plan to be put to a vote, which the government subsequently lost by 308 votes to 297, majority 11.

Britain's battle over Brexit turned into political trench warfare between Parliament and the government Wednesday, as Prime Minister Theresa May brought her little-loved European Union divorce agreement back to lawmakers who appear determined to thwart her plans.

"But it is also the intention, if that were not to take place, that we respond quickly to provide certainty on the way forward following that vote".

"I think he stepped way over the mark out today he's broken with parliamentary precedent". But the bloc refuses to reopen the agreement, and opposition to the negotiated deal remains strong from both pro-Brexit and pro-EU lawmakers in Britain.

But the vote did carry symbolic weight: Parliamentarians are pushing back on a no-deal scenario.

While a majority of MPs may vote to take a "no deal" Brexit off the table, that would not legally oblige Mrs May's government to do so.

"She will lose Tuesday's vote and that will confirm Parliament is now running things".

With the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit rising, the European Union is looking at how Brexit might be postponed, and pro-EU campaigners are testing ways Britain could hold another referendum after voters narrowly backed leaving in 2016.

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Conservative former cabinet minister Ken Clarke earlier said he found it "unbelievable" that some MPs were trying to stop the Commons expressing its opinion on the matter.

Wednesday's decision came as MPs began five days of debate on May's deal and is the latest example of legislators seeking to tie the government's hands over Brexit, with less than three months to go before the United Kingdom leaves the European Union on March 29.

Meanwhile, Business Secretary Greg Clark told the House of Commons that a no-deal Brexit "should not be contemplated".

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, said the delay "has achieved nothing beyond wasting a month".

And Downing Street said it was "very surprised" by the Speaker's decision, as it had been advised the motion setting out the timeline for events was unamendable.

"It seems clear that May will lose the vote, the only real question is how much does she lose by", Usherwood added. "I've been in contact with European leaders...about MPs' (members of parliament) concerns".

Angry Tory Brexiteers questioned the Speaker's impartiality over Brexit in heated exchanges.

The government needs 318 votes to get a deal through the 650-seat House of Commons, as seven members of Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein do not sit, four Speakers and deputy Speakers do not vote, and the four tellers are not counted.

However, pro-European MPs insist they will be able to table amendments to such a motion which would make clear where Parliament stands on issues such as a no-deal Brexit if they are voted on.