MPs fail to back alternative Brexit options
MPs will be asked to vote again on Brexit options on Monday after failing to agree on any of the eight choices presented to them.
After a historic day at Westminster in which backbench MPs took control of the agenda from the Government, all the proposals put forward for “indicative” votes were rejected.
But the process indicated significant support for a second referendum and a customs union, which both secured more votes than Theresa May’s deal has managed.
The call for a customs union was defeated by just eight votes, while the proposal to hold a referendum on a deal lost by 27.
Sir Oliver Letwin, the architect of the plan to seize control of the Commons timetable, said it was “a very great disappointment” that no option had secured a majority but MPs would be asked to vote again on April 1.
“If on Monday the House is able to reach a majority view, I think that would be in the interests of our constituents,” he said.
The results of Wednesday’s votes were:
– No deal: defeated by 400 votes to 160, majority 240.
– Common market 2.0: defeated by 283 votes to 188, majority 95.
– Efta and EEA: defeated by 377 votes to 65, majority 312.
– Customs union – defeated by 272 votes to 264, majority eight.
– Labour’s alternative plan – defeated by 307 votes to 237, majority 70.
– Revocation to avoid no-deal – defeated by 293 votes to 184, majority 109.
– Confirmatory public vote – defeated by 295 voted to 268, majority 27.
– Contingent preferential arrangements – defeated by 422 votes to 139, majority 283.
Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson, who backs the People’s Vote campaign for another referendum, said: “The majority of MPs and the British people do not want the Prime Minister’s broken Brexit deal.
“Nor do either the public or Parliament back crashing out of the EU without a deal. Tonight has shown there is growing support for our compromise solution and that any new way forward will require enough time to be properly negotiated and scrutinised.
“When this Parliament has finally made a decision on what Brexit means, I am hopeful that a majority will emerge for any final proposal to be put to a vote, not only by MPs, but also by the people.”
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said Mrs May’s deal had achieved 202 and then 242 votes when it was put to the Commons and “that deal should be dead”.
“It is clear that remaining in the EU is an option that is firmly on the table – with a second EU referendum being the most popular option of all, and a substantial number of MPs recognising that revoking Article 50 is the right way to prevent a Brexit disaster,” he said.
“Parliament has taken initial steps towards building consensus. In the coming days, we will continue cross-party discussions to find a way forward – including whether proposals on the single market and customs union, which currently fall short, can be strengthened.”
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said: “As anticipated, the Commons has not produced an absolutely clear way forward, but it is clearer where the centre of gravity now is.
“What is essential is that whichever Brexit option the Government pursues, it is put to the public in a confirmatory referendum.”
But Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said the Commons process “demonstrates that there are no easy options” and “no simple way forward”.
“The results of the process this House has gone through today strengthens our view that the deal the Government has negotiated is the best option,” he told MPs.
“It is the Government’s firm wish to get the Withdrawal Agreement approved by this House, and I urge all members, no matter the view on what the future relationship should be, if you believe in delivering on the referendum result by leaving the EU with a deal, then it’s necessary to back the Withdrawal Agreement.
“If we do not do that, then there are no guarantees about where this process will end.”
Tory Brexiteer Simon Clarke dismissed the entire process: “Well those indicative votes went really well.
“Another Sir Oliver Letwin masterclass.”