LONDON — Theresa May has suffered a landslide defeat on her Brexit deal for a second time after MPs rejected her revised agreement with the EU.
The House of Commons voted by 391 to 242 to reject May’s deal and the new “legally binding” assurances she had negotiated with the EU.
The result means the prime minister will be forced to bring forward a series of votes in which MPs will be asked whether to leave the EU without a deal or seek a delay to Brexit.
The prime minister’s hopes of winning over opponents of the deal were dashed on Tuesday morning after the Attorney General refused to change his previous legal advice to MPs.
Geoffrey Cox told MPs that the risk of Britain being kept indefinitely kept within the controversial Northern Ireland backstop after Brexit remained “unchanged” despite the assurances received by the prime minister.
The advice led to the Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May’s minority government, to oppose the deal, along with large numbers of pro-Brexit Conservative MPs.
May, who opened the debate on the deal on Tuesday afternoon, struggled to win over Conservative MPs, most of whom were absent from the green benches behind her, with her voice failing at several points throughout her address.
General election rumours
The defeat comes as rumours of an imminent general election spread in Westminster. Charles Walker, who is the deputy chairman of the 1922 group of backbench Conservative MPs told the BBC that “there will have to be a general election.”
“If we can’t decide tonight to leave the EU under the terms that the prime minister has negotiated, then I can’t see really how this government can continue in office,” he said.
“as sure as night follows day, there will be a general election within a matter of days or weeks.”
Theresa May’s spokesman dismissed rumours that the government were preparing to hold an election.
“We are not preparing for a general election. We do not want one,” he said.