British MPs vote for bigger role in Brexit process
Lawmakers to vote on range of Brexit options today
LONDON British lawmakers wrested control of the parliamentary agenda from the government for a day in a highly unusual bid to find a way through the Brexit impasse after Prime Minister Theresa May's EU divorce deal was rejected again.
Lawmakers will now vote on a range of Brexit options today, giving Parliament a chance to indicate whether it can agree on a deal with closer ties to Brussels - and then try to push the government in that direction.
Nearly three years after the 2016 EU membership referendum, and four days before Britain was supposed to leave the bloc, it remains still unclear how, when or even if Brexit will take place, with Parliament and the nation still bitterly divided.
The vote underlined the extent to which Mrs May has lost authority over her own lawmakers and ministers, though she said the government would not be bound by the results of the so-called indicative votes.
"The government will continue to call for realism - any options considered must be deliverable in negotiations with the EU," said a spokesman for the Department for Exiting the European Union.
Brexit Minister Stephen Barclay had said on Sunday that if Parliament took control of the Brexit process, a snap election - which the main opposition Labour Party would be likely to back - could be the consequence.
Mrs May, too, has made clear that she would not implement a proposal that ran counter to her election manifesto, which promised a clean break with the EU.
But while lawmakers may struggle to turn today's indicative votes into law, if they do reach some kind of a consensus, it would pile pressure on a prime minister who has accused Parliament of having no more viable solution than her deal.
Monday's vote was put forward by Mr Oliver Letwin, a lawmaker in Mrs May's Conservative Party. The Prime Minister had earlier admitted that the deal she had agreed with the EU after two years of talks still did not have enough support to pass.
Mrs May has not ruled out bringing back her deal for a third time this week. Tomorrow would be the most likely day.
The Sun newspaper reported that she had suggested on Sunday that she could resign if that persuaded enough doubters in her party to back her deal.
Some of her lawmakers have already publicly urged her to go.
Parliament backed Mr Letwin's proposal more clearly than expected, by 329 votes to 302, helped by three junior ministers who resigned in order to defy the government line.
"The amendment ... upends the balance between our democratic institutions and sets a dangerous, unpredictable precedent for the future," the Brexit department spokesman said.