LONDON — The pound held steady at around $1.32 and 1.17 euros late Wednesday as British Members of Parliament shot down all eight Brexit proposals put to them as an alternative to Prime Minister Theresa May’s unpopular withdrawal deal.
Parliamentarians began voting at 7 p.m. local time, and the results came through around 9:30 pm. They were asked to write “yes” or “no” on each deal, and the “no’s” won for all the options laid out, including a no-deal Brexit; revoking Article 50 and canceling Brexit altogether; a customs union with the European Union; and a temporary customs union with the EU, until new trade deals can be struck.
MPs will now try to narrow down the eight defeated options and attempt to vote on the ones that garnered the most support on April 1. The least unpopular deals had to do with maintaining a customs union deal with the EU, and holding a confirmatory referendum, or people’s vote, on any Brexit withdrawal agreement approved by Parliament.
“There are no easy options, no simple way forward,” argued the MP and Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay. “The deal the government negotiated was is the best option.”
Earlier in the day, May had promised to step down as prime minister if her Brexit deal is finally passed. May’s plan, which has been voted down twice, is unpopular because it involves a controversial clause that opponents fear could keep the U.K. in the customs union indefinitely — and effectively block Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
The clause deals with the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which both Britain and the EU want to keep open and without checks.
May could bring her deal back to Parliament as early as this week, according to media reports here, and is so desperate to push it through that she has promised to resign if it’s successful, leaving whoever takes her place to oversee the future trade negotiations with the EU.
“I am prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended in order to do what is right for our country and our party,” she told Tory MPs, according to the BBC. “I ask everyone in this room to back the deal so we can complete our historic duty to deliver on the decision of the British people and leave the European Union with a smooth and orderly exit.”
She did not say when she would step down, but media outlets are speculating that it could be as early as May, with the likes of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt among those being talked about as her successor. There is also talk of calling a general election in a bid to release the country from its Brexit deadlock.
The U.K. has until April 12 to come up with a withdrawal plan, and if it fails it could crash out of the EU in what’s known as a “hard” or unmanaged Brexit. If May’s deal passes, the U.K. will have until May 22 to leave the EU.