Foreign Minister Winston Peters says a "soft Brexit" was never really ever going to occur when it came to the UK's exit from the European Union.

This morning (NZ time), more than 430 MPs voted to reject Prime Minister Theresa May's deal with just 200 supporting it – the biggest Government defeat in the House in recent history.

This leaves the UK just over 70 days to hammer out a new deal, or face a "hard Brexit" – whereby the UK would be completely cut out of the EU and taking it out of the single market but would have more control over its borders.

With a "soft Brexit" Britain could gain special access to the EU's single market, but it would have less control of its borders.


Peters said it's unlikely a soft Brexit could be achieved.

"In respect to the UK, the only outcome [which] was ever going to be [was] a hard landing Brexit – not one of those soft negotiated ones," he told The Country.

"The sooner [British MPs] face the facts that it will be a hard landing and prepare for that and get on with the future, the better."

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said this morning's vote added to the uncertainty from New Zealand's perspective.

"Clearly tonight's outcome adds to uncertainty – that is part of the way of life,"

"All we can do is make sure New Zealand is prepared for whatever outcome comes from the year – that's what the Government has been doing for some time."

But he said the decision as to what happens with Brexit was in the hands of UK politicians and the people of the UK.

There are now a number of options on what happens next for the UK's divorce deal with the EU.

These include a no deal scenario, a managed deal and a second referendum.

Robertson would not speculate on the range of outcomes which may occur as they were all "in play".

"If there is going to be a Brexit, we need it to be one that is planned and orderly. Clearly, that is the preferred outcome for the whole planet."

But in the end, he said, the decisions about how that happens we're not in "our hands".

"The thing we can control is the way in which our relationships work with both the UK and the remainder of the EU."

He said the Government had additional resources which focus on ensuring New Zealand was ready for "all eventualities".

"We're working with exporters around making sure that they are prepared for any eventuality as well."

He stressed the Government had "good, strong relationships" with the UK and with the rest of the European Union.

"We're going to continue to build on those and develop those so that we're ready for whatever happens next."

He said he was very positive about that and would talk more about the relationships in the coming days.

Meanwhile, Opposition trade spokesman Todd McClay said the Government needed to ensure it does all it can to secure free trade agreements with both the EU and the UK.