British Prime Minister Theresa May was dealt another devastating blow after her updated Brexit deal failed to persuade the British Parliament to pledge their support on Tuesday, nearly two months after suffering the largest defeat in House of Commons history.
May has been pushing a plan that lists the terms of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union for more than two years — since the country's historic 2016 referendum that resulted in the decision to depart the E.U. In January, members of Parliament voted 432-202 against May's deal, said to be the largest defeat in House of Commons history.
Time is running out: Britain is due to leave the E.U. on March 29. It’s possible the country could leave the bloc without a deal, which economists have warned could have devastating effects on the British economy.
"In politics sometimes you get a second chance. It is what we do with that second chance that counts. There will be no third chance."
— Jean-Claude Juncker
The deal has continued to face deep opposition from both sides of Britain's divide over Europe.
"In politics sometimes you get a second chance. It is what we do with that second chance that counts. There will be no third chance," Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, recently told the BBC.
Here’s what you need to know about Brexit and the departure agreement.
First, what is Brexit?
Brexit — or “British Exit” — refers to the U.K.’s choice to leave the E.U., which is an “economic and political partnership” that currently consists of 28 countries in Europe, according to the BBC.
A list of countries that are part of the E.U. can be found here.
What has happened since the U.K. voted to leave the E.U.?
May and other U.K. leaders have worked with the E.U. to negotiate and agree on the terms of the country’s exit from the E.U., which will occur on March 29 whether or not there is a deal, the BBC reported.
Negotiations between the two sides have led to a 585-page withdrawal agreement. The agreement, in part, details the terms of the U.K.’s departure from the E.U.
Namely, this includes how much money the U.K. is required to pay the E.U., (estimated £39 billion or more than $49 billion), what will happen to the E.U. citizens living in the U.K. and vice versa, and how to prevent a physical 310-mile border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland “when it becomes the frontier between the U.K. and the E.U.,” the BBC reported. This has also been referred to as the “backstop plan.”
The E.U. says that there can be no deal without the backstop to guarantee an open border along the U.K.'s only land frontier with an E.U. member state. But pro-Brexit supporters say this part of the agreement will bind the U.K. to many E.U. laws, CNBC previously reported.
Since her devastating defeat in January, May said she's secured a joint declaration from the European Union, U.K. and Northern Ireland that "commits to replacing the backstop with alternative arrangements" by the end of 2020, according to the BBC.
"The Parties recall their determination to replace the backstop solution on Northern Ireland by a subsequent agreement that establishes alternative arrangements for ensuring the absence of a hard border on the island of Ireland on a permanent footing," the March political declaration states.
Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington says changes to a portion of the deal regarding the Irish border should overcome lawmakers' concerns about a mechanism in the deal designed to keep an open border between Britain's Northern Ireland and E.U. member Ireland.
The new guarantee "provides confirmation that the E.U. cannot try to trap the U.K. in the backstop indefinitely," Lidington explained.
What’s happening now?
Members of the British Parliament voted against May's updated Brexit deal around 3 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
Since the vote was rejected again, Parliament will vote on Wednesday to determine whether the U.K. should leave without a deal. If approved, the U.K. would exit without a deal on March 29.
If Parliament doesn't agree to the "no deal" option then members would vote again Thursday on delaying the Brexit plan. If members disagree over the delay, the U.K. would leave the E.U. without a deal. But if they do vote for a delay, then May would have to ask the E.U. for an extension beyond the scheduled March 29 departure date.
May warned last week that any delay could mean "we may never leave the EU at all."
Alan Wager, a Brexit expert at the U.K. in a Changing Europe think tank, said Parliament this week could decisively rule out both May's deal and a no-deal departure.
That, in turn, would make such options as a new Brexit referendum or a "softer" withdrawal from the EU lot more likely, he said.
"Finally, the House of Commons is going to have to make a final judgment on what it wants in terms of Brexit," he said.
What’s the so-called “transition period” and why is it important?
The transition period is a period of time between March 29 and Dec. 21, 2020 that will allow businesses to adjust to the new rules between the U.K. and E.U. after Brexit formally begins.
But the transition period will only occur if a deal is met between the E.U. and U.K.
Economists warn that an abrupt break from the E.U. could batter the British economy and bring chaotic scenes at borders, ports and airports.
The British government has already reportedly started to plan for this potential outcome.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw, Greg Headen, Jennifer Earl and The Associated Press contributed to this report.