The House of Commons has rejected a bid by Jeremy Corbyn to force a debate on Labour’s Brexit plans.
Mr Corbyn’s call for more time to be given for MPs to consider alternatives to the Brexit deal was the first in a series of amendments being put to the vote on Tuesday evening.
Prime Minister Theresa May made a plea to MPs to give her a “mandate” to reopen negotiations with Brussels by backing a proposal from Tory grandee Sir Graham Brady, which calls for the controversial backstop to be replaced by “alternative arrangements” to keep the Irish border open after Brexit.
The chances of the Brady amendment succeeding were boosted when hardline Eurosceptics in the backbench European Research Group announced they would support it.
But Mrs May’s hopes of reopening the Withdrawal Agreement struck with the EU last November were dealt a blow by French President Emmanuel Macron, who described it as “not renegotiable”.
Speaking in Cyprus moments before MPs voted, Mr Macron said: “As the European Council in December clearly indicated, the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated between the UK and EU is the best agreement possible.
“It is not renegotiable.”
Mr Macron called on Mrs May to present the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier with her next steps for avoiding a no-deal Brexit on March 29, which he said “no-one wants, but … we must all, despite everything, prepare for”.
Mr Corbyn’s amendment was defeated by 296 votes to 327, with MPs thought to have voted broadly along party lines.
A second amendment tabled by the Scottish National Party, which called on the Government to rule out no-deal and extend the two-year Article 50 negotiation process, was defeated by 327 votes to 39, as Labour abstained.
House of Commons votes against Dominic Grieve's Amendment (g) to the #BrexitNextSteps motion by 321 to 301.
— UK House of Commons (@HouseofCommons) January 29, 2019
Another amendment, tabled by Tory Dominic Grieve, which sought to wrest control of Commons business from the Government for six individual days in the run-up to March 29, was defeated by 321 votes to 301, majority 20.