The drama surrounding Brexit only intensified yesterday as Theresa May suffered an historic defeat on her deal to leave the EU. As a result of last night’s meaningful vote, Labour made the first move in trying to trigger a General Election by calling a vote of no confidence against the PM’s government.

What happened with the meaningful vote?

Tuesday evening saw the widely-anticipated outcome of MPs voting against May’s Brexit deal come to fruition. Although the result itself wasn’t surprising, the manner in which it came was hugely significant.

After securing just 31.86% of votes in favour of her deal, the rejection was the worst defeat by a government in the history of UK politics. It has left yet more uncertainty around the future of the UK and the subsequent relationship with the EU, despite Brexit now being a mere 72 days away, and leaves May with another damaging loss to her name. Following the result, she vowed to carry on and return with a different plan on Brexit proceedings, should she survive the no-confidence vote tonight.

Blog post 160119

Why was May’s deal voted down?

Each of the 634 MPs who voted against May’s deal will have their own reasons on why they voted that way, and of course, party politics and self-gain would have played a part.

However, from the many debates held in the House of Commons, it seems that MPs simply did not believe the deal that Theresa May had secured was strong enough for the UK to leave the EU with. In voting down the deal, some believe there is now a potential for a better deal to be renegotiated, a second referendum to happen or even a new government to take control of Brexit proceedings – all of which would have influenced voting culture among MPs.

What is the vote of no confidence?

The vote of no confidence is an opportunity for MPs to vote either in favour, or against the PM and her government. It will commence from 7pm (GMT) on Wednesday 16 January, and the result could have great significance in the run-up towards the Brexit date of March 29.

Should May not receive a majority, she could be forced to resign as PM if she cannot convince the house that she is the best person to lead the country. There will be 14 days for any government to win a confidence vote, be that May or any opposition that feel they can take her place. If no government can secure the confidence of the house, a General Election will be held.

Alternatively, if May survives the no-confidence vote, she has three days to come up with a ‘Plan B’ for Brexit. This could include effectively a ‘Hard Brexit,’ where no deal is agreed with the EU, in which case instant ramifications may be felt by the UK immediately after the departure.

Other outcomes?

Much talk recently has surrounded an extension to Article 50. This would delay Brexit and provide more time to either agree a deal worthy or passing through Parliament, or alternative action to take place - but this scenario requires the agreement of the EU.

A final outcome is a second referendum occurring. In what would be a lengthy process though, many critics say it would make a mockery of UK democracy. The UK voted to leave the European Union in 2016, and that decision should be honoured. Those in favour of a referendum claim that this Brexit is not what anyone wanted.

Whatever happens from now until the end of March, it seems that we are in for a few more dramatic nights before, if at all, the UK leaves the EU.