British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan went down to an historic defeat in Parliament on Tuesday. The next day, she narrowly survived a vote of no-confidence in her government. This Monday, Jan. 21, she’ll have to tell Parliament what her Plan B for Brexit is — and will submit that plan to a vote on Jan. 29.
Here’s what to know about key issues during this extraordinary and chaotic moment in British politics.
After Tuesday’s staggering loss, most politicians would have resigned. Why is Theresa May still in office?
Members of Parliament belonging to May’s Conservative Party feared that if they voted down her government, it would trigger a general election and open the door to Jeremy Corbyn and his opposition Labour Party taking control of the government. Consider this Brexit whiplash: On Tuesday, more than 100 Conservative parliamentarians voted against May’s plan. A day later, they rallied to support her and voted to save her government.
What are the prime minister’s options now?
May is reaching out to Labour and other political parties to find out if there is a majority for anything related to Brexit in the fragmented British Parliament. If she can find consensus, she could go back to Brussels and ask for concessions, one of which would likely focus on resolution of a major sticking point in Brexit negotiations — the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Although May insists she won’t, she could try to let the clock wind down toward the March 29 deadline to leave the European Union and use the threat of a no-deal Brexit — a prospect most Britons dread because of the economic disruption it would likely cause — to force Parliament to pass a version of her plan. But Corbyn has already labeled that “blackmail” and many consider it a bluff, betting no government would risk the economic damage of walking away from the giant EU market with no future arrangement.
The prime minister could also try to deliver a “softer” Brexit that would keep the U.K. closer to the European Union — for instance, by staying in the EU customs union. But that would enrage…