On Wednesday morning in Parliament, Theresa May addressed lawmakers following yet another humiliating defeat underlined the great personal pressure the Prime Minister is under on Brexit.
A Parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal was defeated by a margin of 149 votes, and will be near-impossible to reverse. With 16 days left before the UK is due to leave the European Union, the Brexit rollercoaster lurches once again as lawmakers prepare to vote on a motion to prevent no deal.
On a similar vote last month, the House of Commons signaled its opposition to a no deal Brexit. Now it's more complicated: Facing the risk of her Conservative party splitting in two, the Prime Minister has agreed a free vote on the motion -- meaning the party's lawmakers are not obliged to follow the government's position.
Many Conservative MPs (members of Parliament) already favor a no deal -- because it would deliver the hardest Brexit possible, with no ties at all to the EU after March 29. This group is likely to have increased in number after Tuesday night's defeat of May's plans, with MPs now fearing that unless they vote for a no deal, Brexit itself could be delayed -- or canceled altogether.
A look at what might happen in the days ahead:
The House of Commons voted 391-242 against May's EU withdrawal agreement Tuesday, snubbing changes she secured from the bloc the night before to allay concerns about the deal's Irish border provisions. Lawmakers voted down the deal in January by an even bigger margin.
After the tally, May said Parliament would vote Wednesday on whether to abandon efforts to secure an agreement and to leave the EU as planned in a little more than two weeks without a deal.
Delay and delay
If lawmakers give leaving the EU without an agreement a thumbs down, they have one choice left: seeking more time. A third vote scheduled for Thursday is on asking the EU to delay Brexit day by up to three months.
This option is likely to prove popular, since politicians on both sides of the Brexit debate fear time is running out to secure an orderly withdrawal by March 29.
Whatever Parliament decides, it will not end Britain's Brexit crisis. Both lawmakers and the public remain split between backers of a clean break from the EU and those who favor continuing a close relationship through a post-Brexit trade deal or by reversing the June 2016 decision to leave.
May is unwilling to abandon her hard-won Brexit agreement and might try to put it to Parliament a third time, although the latest margin of defeat makes that tricky.