After last minute renegotiations in Strasbourg on Monday evening, the prime minister was hoping for a change of fortunes for her EU withdrawal agreement.
Her renegotiated deal was however, voted down by MPs by 242 votes to 391 – a majority of 149.
It wasn’t looking for PM May’s deal after Attorney General Geoffrey Cox announced his legal opinion of the deal. He concluded that the provisions secured by Mrs May in Strasbourg did not reduce the risk that the UK would have no legal means of leaving the backstop without the agreement of the European Union.
As Tuesday afternoon progressed, the DUP announced that they would not be supporting the latest version of the deal. Since losing her majority in 2017’s snap general election, the prime minister has been reliant on the DUP’s support in the Commons.
The ERG’s legal team, known internally as the ‘Star Chamber’ also advised its members to reject the latest version of the withdrawal agreement.
Sir Bill Cash MP, a leading member of the Star Chamber said in a statement: “In the light of our own legal analysis and others we do not recommend accepting the government’s motion today.”
As debate commenced in the Commons, Mrs May warned MPs that Brexit “could be lost” if they rejected the agreement for a second time.
She did however, face statements of opposition from within her own party. Jacob Rees-Mogg called the prime minister’s threat “phantom”, telling pro-Brexit MPs that it was safe to reject the deal.
Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also intervened, saying that a no-deal Brexit was “the only path to self respect”.
It was apparent by 6pm that Mrs May was on track for another massive defeat, after losing to a historic majority of 230 votes in January.
As MPs headed to the division lobbies to cast their votes, SNP MP Hannah Bardell tweeted an image of a packed room of ‘no’ voters.
“I can safely say the no lobby is absolutely rammed…. the PM is about to face another huge defeat”, she wrote.
As the scale of her defeat was announced, the future of Britain’s departure from the EU became even more uncertain than it was before.
The prime minister instantly took to the despatch box to announce a free vote on leaving without a deal would be held tomorrow.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn MP took the opportunity to once again call for a general election, telling the House: “The government’s deal is clearly dead.”
75 of 314 Conservative MPs voted against their leader’s deal, joining 238 Labour members. Three Labour MPs voted for the deal.
17 independent MPs, the SNP, Liberal Democrats, the DUP, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party’s one MP, its leader Caroline Lucas, all rejected the deal.
So what happens next? On Wednesday evening MPs will vote on whether to leave without a deal.
If no-deal is rejected, MPs will then vote on extending Article 50 on Thursday, which if passed would mean that Britain would no longer leave the EU on March 29. That is, if the EU27 agree.
If both no-deal and an extension to Article 50 are voted down, the prime minister has warned that it could result in a second referendum or revoking Article 50 all together.
Prime Minister May has had her leadership put under immense pressure on more occasions than any of her recent predecessors, but once again she’s battling not only to carry out Brexit, but for her administration’s future.