Theresa May Finds Herself Without a Voice, or a Friend Express News

Her withdrawal agreement was voted down, in the end, in a vote of 391 to 242, making it one of the worst government defeats in history. Outside, Tory rebels spoke with increasing comfort about replacing her.

“Why did she not announce her resignation tonight?” a reporter asked James Cleverly, the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party. “When has there been a time in British politics when a prime minister has lost on such a crucial vote twice and not resigned?”

Meanwhile, Mr. Menon said, Britain is propelled further along “this insane game of chicken.”

“Watching them strut around Parliament today, there are clearly a lot of people thinking about their places in history,” he said. “There are very few people thinking about what happens next.”

When she returned to acknowledge the defeat, Mrs. May was still rasping.

But now she seemed angry. The deal that she had poured herself into for two and a half years, painstakingly reaching compromise with Brussels on one provision after another, had unraveled in her hands.

“I profoundly regret the decision this house has taken tonight,” she said, and her voice had an edge to it. She declared that a vote on Wednesday, potentially blocking a no-deal exit, would be a free vote, meaning the leadership would no longer instruct members on how to vote. It was an acknowledgment that she had lost control over the process. But not that she would leave the stage. Not yet.

“Brexit has killed her and saved her at the same time,” Ms. Hazarika said. “It’s her job. She knows as soon as Brexit’s done, she’s done.” She added that, as far as she could see, that moment hadn’t arrived.

“I think she’ll cling on as long as possible,” she said. “I think she and her advisers will be in a room tonight, plotting how to bring everything back.”

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