(Bloomberg) — Prime Minister Theresa May is set to see her
Brexit deal rejected in the biggest Parliamentary defeat for a
British government in 95 years after her last minute pleas for
support appeared to fall on deaf ears. The battle now is over
not whether May loses, but how badly.
At least 70 of her Conservative Party, as well as sometime
allies in the Democratic Unionist Party, are publicly pledged to
join opposition Members of Parliament in voting against her
agreement Tuesday. That would translate into a defeat by a
margin of 150 or more, the largest in over a century. Even if
some abstain, a defeat by more than 100 would be the worst since
May postponed a vote before Christmas in the hope of
winning over Parliament with new concessions from Brussels over
the so-called backstop intended to ensure the post-Brexit Irish
border stays open, but EU leaders’ letters of reassurance were
treated with scorn in the House of Commons Monday.
“I will be continuing to encourage members of this House to
vote for what I believe to be a good deal,” May said as she
faced down criticism from all sides Monday afternoon. “We asked
the people what their view was and said we would do what they
decided, and we should now do it.”
Markets and the EU will be watching Tuesday’s results,
scheduled to start at 7 p.m., and the margin of a government
defeat will affect how they both respond. A defeat by more than
220 votes could see sterling fall to $1.225, according to Neil
Jones, head of hedge-fund currency sales at Mizuho Bank.
Meanwhile, a margin of less than 60 would leave some room
for hope, several EU officials said last week, and the bloc may
look at fresh ways of making the agreement more palatable to get
it across the line.