Britain’s House of Commons has rejected a plan to hold more indicative votes on Brexit.
MPs were tied on the amendment, voting 310-310 but Speaker John Bercow voted against it in accordance with the conventions of the House. Mr Bercow said the last time a vote in the Commons ended in a tie was in 1993.
It came as Prime Minister Theresa May met opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn to seek a way out of a Brexit stalemate, a gamble that could see a European Union divorce deal finally clear parliament but also tear her party apart.
Both sides described the talks as “constructive”.
The United Kingdom was supposed to leave the EU last Friday, but, nearly three years after Britons narrowly voted for Brexit in a referendum, it is still unclear how, when or even whether it will quit the bloc.
After her EU withdrawal deal was rejected three times by MPs, with parliament and her Conservative Party hopelessly divided over Brexit, Mrs May said she would talk to the Labour Party leader in a bid to overcome what is now a national crisis.
“There are actually a number of areas we agree on in relation to Brexit … what we want to do now is to find a way forward that can command the support of this House and deliver on Brexit,” Mrs May told parliament.
However, by approaching Mr Corbyn, a veteran socialist loathed by many of Mrs May’s Conservatives and mocked by Mrs May herself as unfit to govern, she risks further inflaming divisions in her party.
Two junior ministers quit on Wednesday.
“It now seems that you and your cabinet have decided that a deal — cooked up with a Marxist who has never once in his political life put British interests first — is better than ‘no-deal’,” Nigel Adams said as he resigned as a minister for Wales.
Mrs May turned to Labour after a hardcore Eurosceptic group of Conservatives repeatedly rejected her divorce deal, saying it would leave Britain a “vassal state”.
Labour wants to stay in a customs union with the EU, raising the likelihood of a “soft” Brexit option that keeps Britain’s economy closely aligned to the world’s biggest trading bloc.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said the government would accept a soft Brexit if parliament voted for it.
Mrs May said on Tuesday she would seek “as short as possible” a delay to the current Brexit date of April 12, having repeatedly said she did not want Britain to have to take part in European parliament elections on May 23.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he believed EU leaders were open to further delay and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would “fight until the last minute” for an orderly British exit.
But European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said Britain would not get any further short delays unless its parliament ratified a deal by April 12 — the date set by EU leaders as the effective cut-off for avoiding the European parliament elections.
Meanwhile Bank of England governor Mark Carney warned on Wednesday that Britain still faced an “alarmingly high” risk of a no-deal Brexit, which could happen suddenly and by accident without politicians fully intending it.
The idea, promoted by some Brexit supporters, that Britain could effectively trade on World Trade Organisation terms with zero tariffs after a no-deal Brexit was “absolute nonsense”, Mr Carney added in the interview with broadcaster Sky News.
Mr Carney said that as long ago as August last year, he had described the chance of Britain leaving the EU without any transition deal as uncomfortably high.
“It’s alarmingly high now,” he said.