Theresa May is the very picture of resilience and tenacity; even her political opponents admire her ability to stand steadfast as arrows rain down from all directions -- but make no mistake, she has been mortally wounded.
The British prime minister survived a confidence vote in her leadership, but a full third of her own party cast ballots against her, a big blow that means she will have an almost impossible job getting her current Brexit deal approved by Parliament.
May told party members before the confidence ballots were taken that she would step down as leader before the next general election, expected to take place in 2022, essentially making her a lame duck and weakening her stature as she returns to Brussels yet again to try and win more concessions.
So what happens now?
As it stands, the U.K. and the European Union are at a political impasse, and the current Brexit withdrawal agreement will not win approval in Parliament.
It’s becoming increasingly likely that the U.K. will leave on March 29 with no deal in place, a so-called hard Brexit that critics claim will lead to economic chaos.
Plan B could involve the “Norway Plus” option, a quasi-Brexit that puts the U.K. outside of the E.U. but still allows access to the single market. The biggest flaw in this option is the required “free movement” of people, which basically makes it a non starter.
There is always the possibility of a second referendum on Brexit. The prime minister said the people have already spoken, and a second referendum is an affront to democracy. But a growing number of British lawmakers say the people should be allowed vote again, now that they know what Brexit actually looks like.
Another possibility could be a change of government all together.
The opposition Labor Party said it will table a motion for a confidence vote when the time is right, meaning all members of Parliament would vote on May’s government.
If Labor wins and is able to form a majority government, they would be in charge and would likely call for a second referendum.
If your head is spinning you’re not alone. Brexit fatigue is very real, and the British people just want it over, but the question remains, how?