MPs voted down May's amended EU withdrawal deal by 391 to 242 on Tuesday. The prime minister also suffered a similar defeat in Parliament in January where her deal was rejected with a margin of 230 votes.
In the coming days, British lawmakers now will vote on whether to pull out of the European Union without a deal entirely on March 29, or to delay the exit process. A snap election or even another referendum is now possible.
Hoarse-voiced and looking exhausted, May said the government would not provide instructions to her own Conservative Party’s lawmakers how to vote.
“Let me be clear. Voting against leaving without a deal and for an extension does not solve the problems we face,” she said.
“Does it (Parliament) wish to revoke Article 50 (announcing intention to leave the EU)? Does it want to hold a second referendum? Or does it want to leave with a deal, but not this deal?” she asked.
An opposition Labour Party spokesman said this meant the prime minister had “given up any pretense of leading the country.”
May, who was in Strasbourg on Monday night to coordinate her position with senior EU officials, said earlier in the day Britain had secured a legally-binding way out of the so-called Irish backstop mechanism which could be used if the country felt it was trapped in the UK’s customs union beyond 2020.
However, opponents of May’s Brexit deal, including lawmakers in the Conservative Party and almost the entire opposition Labour Party, rejected her claims on the backstop, saying the deal she had brought to Parliament was “exactly” the same pact that was dismissed last month.