May beats no-con­fi­dence vote and opens cross-party talks on Brexit

Lodi News-Sentinel - - NATION / WORLD - By Tim Ross, Alex Mo­rales and Kitty Don­ald­son

LON­DON — Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May sur­vived an at­tempt to oust her gov­ern­ment and im­me­di­ately opened talks with ri­val po­lit­i­cal par­ties in an at­tempt to break the Brexit dead­lock, as time runs out to reach a deal.

May fought off the threat of a na­tional elec­tion and won the right to con­tinue run­ning the coun­try when the House of Com­mons voted 325-306 against a mo­tion of “no con­fi­dence” in her ad­min­is­tra­tion. The pound edged higher.

She in­vited other party lead­ers, who back keep­ing much closer ties to the European Union, for talks Wed­nes­day night to dis­cuss how to forge a com­pro­mise Brexit plan that Parliament can sup­port.

“The gov­ern­ment ap­proaches these meet­ings in a con­struc­tive spirit, and I urge oth­ers to do the same,” May told law­mak­ers. “We must find solutions that are ne­go­tiable and com­mand suf­fi­cient sup­port in this House.”

But Jeremy Cor­byn, the leader of the main op­po­si­tion Labour Party, said May must rule out a no-deal Brexit as a pre­con­di­tion for those dis­cus­sions. Af­ter a spokesman for the prime min­is­ter later told re­porters she was not do­ing so, Cor­byn’s camp said no deal was be­ing used as “black­mail.” The Labour leader doesn’t plan to meet May on Wed­nes­day night.

A spokesman for Cor­byn also said Labour would not rule out fur­ther no-con­fi­dence votes.

The slim mar­gin of May’s vic­tory was not a sur­prise as she has no over­all ma­jor­ity in the Com­mons and re­lies on sup­port from the North­ern Ir­ish Demo­cratic Union­ist Party to prop up her gov­ern­ment.

While the re­sult brings short-term respite for May, the U.K. re­mains locked in a po­lit­i­cal cri­sis over its di­vorce from the European Union, with no deal in sight and just 10 weeks un­til the coun­try is due to exit the bloc.

In a par­lia­men­tary vote Tues­day, May’s blue­print for ex­it­ing the EU was re­sound­ingly re­jected by 230 votes — the worst par­lia­men­tary defeat for a gov­ern­ment in modern Bri­tish his­tory. While pro-Brexit hard-lin­ers backed her in the con­fi­dence vote, they will be quick to de­nounce any at­tempts she makes to find a com­pro­mise that main­tains close ties to the bloc. The sup­port of her North­ern Ir­ish allies is also con­di­tional on a rad­i­cal over­haul of her deal.

If Parliament fails to ap­prove a Brexit deal, the U.K. will fall out of the EU on March 29 with­out any new agree­ment in place. Bri­tish au­thor­i­ties warn that this could trig­ger a re­ces­sion, with the pound fall­ing as much as 25 per­cent and house prices tak­ing as much as a 30 per­cent hit.

Bri­tish and EU of­fi­cials are in­creas­ingly con­vinced the U.K. will need to de­lay Brexit day, though May has so far re­fused pub­licly to con­sider that op­tion.

“We are liv­ing through a his­toric mo­ment in our na­tion’s his­tory,” May said as she asked the Com­mons to back her gov­ern­ment Wed­nes­day. “Fol­low­ing a ref­er­en­dum that di­vided our na­tion in half, we dearly need to bring our coun­try back to­gether.”

Cor­byn pro­posed the no-con­fi­dence vote af­ter May’s Brexit deal suf­fered the big­gest par­lia­men­tary defeat for at least 100 years. He said she’s now run­ning a “zom­bie gov­ern­ment.”

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