SUNDAY TIMES WEB DESK: The House of Commons voted by 391 to 242 to reject the divorce deal, even after May secured further guarantees from Brussels over its most controversial elements.
The move risks unleashing economic chaos, as Britain is scheduled to end ties with its biggest trade partner after 46 years on March 29, no matter what.
Appealing to MPs in a voice half-breaking due to a cold, May had urged them to avoid the “economic shock” of leaving without an agreement.
But she also warned eurosceptics, many of whom have campaigned to leave the EU for their whole careers, that if her deal failed, so might Brexit.
May has promised to allow MPs to vote on a “no deal” option on Wednesday and if that is rejected, to decide on Thursday whether to ask the EU to delay Brexit.
“If this vote is not passed tonight, if this deal is not passed, then Brexit could be lost,” she said before the vote.
Eurosceptics, however, believe the deal is so bad it is worth the risk of leaving with no plan.
“We must take what now seems to be the more difficult route but in the end the one that preserves our self-respect,” said former foreign minister Boris Johnson, a favourite to succeed May if she steps down.
“It is to leave on March 29 as required by law and to become once again an independent country able to make our own choices.”