After this staggering defeat for May, our island is left lost and adrift | Jonathan Freedland
The prime minister’s catalogue of errors led us to this point. Now we face paralysis and humiliation
This was a defeat on a scale without precedent in the era of universal suffrage, a rebuff more humiliating than any endured even by Ramsay MacDonald in 1924. Some 118 Conservatives voted against the signature policy of their own government, thereby triggering a motion of no confidence that, in any normal era, would see the government toppled within hours.
But such are these extraordinary times, that is not even the most significant story from Westminster tonight. What matters more than the fate of this government or this prime minister is the fate of the country and its decision to leave the European Union, which is now suspended in a state of limbo if not purgatory. The law says Britain will leave the EU in 70-odd days. Yet tonight it has rejected the only firm exit path that exists. It means that, unless something changes and MPs can reach an agreement with each other, Britain will crash out of the EU on March 29 without a deal – an outcome all but the most wild-eyed Brexiteers regard as an economic and social catastrophe for these islands.