The Straits Times says

Britain needs more time for Brexit

The only surprise in the outcome of the parliamentary vote on British Prime Minister Theresa May's plan for Britain's exit from the European Union was the 230-vote margin by which it was defeated. With more than two-thirds of British parliamentarians having voted against the deal, including 118 members of Mrs May's own Conservative Party, there is no chance that she can go back to Brussels to negotiate minor revisions and then expect her deal to go through on another vote - which might have been possible had her plan been defeated by only a slim margin. In other words, Mrs May's Brexit deal is as good as dead. But the problem is that British MPs do not seem to agree on any alternative. All the other options - a no-deal Brexit, a Norway-type agreement under which Britain would stay in the EU's Customs union and have to submit to its rules without being a member, and a second referendum on Brexit - are still open, but none of them appeal to a majority of MPs, let alone their voters.

As the dust settles following the crushing defeat of Mrs May's Brexit plan, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Mr Jeremy Corbyn, proposes repeated no-confidence motions against her government, the first of which was defeated narrowly on Wednesday. But even if Mrs May's government were to be forced out, the Labour Party would have to contend with the same parliamentary arithmetic on Brexit that she did, and with the same EU officials. Nor has Labour itself come up with a coherent Brexit plan of its own. So a change of leadership at this stage would, if anything, be just a distraction that would be unlikely to produce a better outcome that would be acceptable to both the EU and British MPs.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2019, with the headline 'Britain needs more time for Brexit'. Print Edition | Subscribe