The British prime minister has on Monday deferred a parliamentary vote on her draft deal on the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union, acknowledging it was doomed to failure over ongoing divisions in the chamber, particularly over a backstop arrangement to ensure a soft Irish border.
Theresa May, a conservative, postponed the vote in the House of Commons, the lower house of UK lawmaking, which had been scheduled to take place on Dec. 11 and said she would hold emergency talks with EU leaders to renegotiate parts of the deal pertaining to the so-called Irish backstop.
May claimed she had listened carefully to what had been said and that there was broad support for many aspects of the deal, a statement that drew laughter from opposition benches in the Commons.
She acknowledged that her changes to the original backstop proposal, which were drawn up to convince Members of Parliament that the measure would be temporary, failed to persuade the House.
"As a result, if we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow the deal would be rejected by a significant margin," May explained, adding that she would not "proceed to divide the House at this time."
However, her decision to defer the meaningful vote, which was leaked to UK media hours earlier, was condemned by Commons speaker John Bercow.
"In any courteous, respectful and mature environment, allowing the House to have its say on the matter would be the right and obvious course to take," he said.
May stood firm on her belief that any Brexit deal with the EU would require some form of Irish backstop to maintain a seamless border between Northern Ireland, a UK territory, and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state.
The PM, whose minority government is propped up by a shaky coalition with a right-wing Northern Irish party, did not specify when the meaningful vote would be held, raising the chances it would be rescheduled for Jan. 2019, two months before the UK is set to leave the bloc.