Brexit Live: Theresa May faces PMQs ahead of confidence vote
Theresa May faces a vote of no confidence after suffering a massive parliamentary defeat over her controversial EU Withdrawal Agreement.
MPs rejected the PM’s Brexit deal by 432 votes to 202 on Tuesday evening and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told the Commons the “catastrophic” defeat was an “absolutely decisive” verdict on her Brexit negotiations.
He tabled a motion of no confidence in the Government which could force an early general election if it wins the support of more than 50% of MPs.
DUP leader Arlene Foster claimed there had never been a hard border in Ireland and elaborated on U105.8FM radio.
She said: “For those of us who lived on the border and who were attacked by the IRA, we know that the IRA escaped across that border, so it was not a hard border, nobody wants to go back to that.
“It takes the will to look for solutions and the regrettable thing is the Republic of Ireland has not been in the solution-finding mode.
“I hope that they are now, I hope that our Prime Minister uses that vote last night to go to Europe and to look for a better deal.”
Labour MP Chuka Umunna, a leading voice among calls for a second referendum, has shared a statement from 71 Labour MPs who want to put the decision on Brexit back to the British people.
Conservative MP James Cleverley dismissed the statement, however, tweeting: “And now we see the first attempt to ignore the 2016 referendum result and prevent Brexit.”
Meeting SNP MPs in Westminster, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon stepped up her call for an extension of Article 50.
Following a telephone call with Mrs May on Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon said: “It seemed to me as if she has no idea really of what to do next.”
Ms Sturgeon said the PM seemed to want to maintain her red lines on Brexit.
She added: “She has wasted enough time. There is no more time to waste. That is why an extension of Article 50 is so essential and so urgent.”
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage told ITV1’s Good Morning Britain: “If the Prime Minister had any sense of honour she would resign this morning having led us to this debacle, but of course she won’t.”
Describing Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement as being like “a surrender document of a nation that had been beaten in war”, Mr Farage added: “Brexit is not the problem, this Prime Minister is, she needs to go.”
He said he expected the two-year Article 50 process leading to Brexit to be extended beyond March 29.
Bank of England governor Mark Carney said the rebound in sterling is a sign markets believe Brexit could be delayed.
In a hearing with MPs on the Treasury Select Committee, he said: “There was a sharp rebound in sterling following the vote and public market commentary, consistent with our market intelligence, (suggests) that rebound would appear to reflect some expectation that the process of resolution would be extended and that the prospect of no-deal may have been diminished.”
Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom said that if Mrs May won the vote of confidence, she would seek to hold discussions with senior parliamentarians on the way forward.
“The Prime Minister will then not necessarily be looking for new ideas that no-one has thought of before, but actually seeking a consensus, a fresh initiative to find a solution that is negotiable with the European Union and that would command a majority in the House of Commons,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“The Prime Minister has been clear that she wants to talk to senior parliamentarians about what would command a majority and that is what we will be doing over the coming days.”
Mrs Leadsom acknowledged there had been no contact with Mr Corbyn but said the Labour leader needed to come forward with constructive proposals.
“I don’t think she has written him off at all but he needs to come to the table and tell us what he wants to do,” she said.
“He has not put forward any specific constructive proposal and that is a problem, which is why the Prime Minister will be engaging right across the House with those who do have very sincerely held views but want to constructively deliver on what the vast majority of parliamentarians voted for.”
Mr Corbyn left his home in Islington, north London, at around 8.30am.
He refused to answer questions from reporters on whether the vote of no confidence is a distraction or if he will win it, and simply wished everyone a good morning.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said Brussels “profoundly regrets” the Commons vote on Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement after two years of negotiation “based on the red lines of the British Government”.