British Prime Minister Theresa May will renew attempts to push through her Brexit plan, after she dramatically offered to quit to save her deal and MPs failed in their own bid to break the deadlock.
At risk of losing control of the process of leaving the European Union, the leader announced she would resign if parliament finally backed her withdrawal agreement.
The offer came just hours before the House of Commons took part in an unprecedented series of votes to seek an alternative plan — but all eight proposals failed to find a majority, highlighting divisions among MPs.
Brexit minister Steve Barclay said the outcome “strengthens our view that the deal our government has negotiated is the best option”.
MPs have twice rejected May’s Brexit deal, both times by large majorities, prompting the leader to announce what is expected to be her final offer.
“ I know there is a desire for a new approach — and new leadership — in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations and I won’t stand in the way of that,” she told a packed meeting of her Conservative MPs.
“But we need to get the deal through and deliver Brexit. I am prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended in order to do what is right for our country and our party.”
There are signs of softening among her rebel MPs, with a number of Eurosceptics performing a U-turn including former foreign secretary Boris Johnson — a likely contender to replace May — who told fellow MPs on Wednesday he would support the deal.
But her offer may not be enough to win round some hardliners, including a group of Conservatives reported to call themselves “The Spartans” who are still holding out — as is the Democratic Unionist Party, the Northern Irish party which props up May’s government.
The DUP says the “backstop” plan in the deal to keep open the border with EU member Ireland after Brexit poses an “unacceptable threat” to the United Kingdom’s political union.
The opposition Labour and Scottish National parties are also against the deal.
– ‘Back me and sack me’ –
Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper questioned whether her “sacrifice” would be in vain while the Guardian called her resignation offer “a stitch-up for a bad deal”.