MPs defeat May government over no-deal Brexit

  • MPs defeat May government over no-deal Brexit

MPs defeat May government over no-deal Brexit

The blow to the Prime Minister came less than a day after Conservative rebels defied the orders of their party to push through an amendment created to frustrate a no-deal Brexit.

According to a report from the BBC, "MPs have backed measures created to thwart preparations for a no-deal Brexit, by defeating the government in the House of Commons".

The European Court of Justice ruled on Monday (10 December) that the United Kingdom can unilaterally halt the Brexit process as Theresa May moved towards delaying a crunch vote on her EU Withdrawal Agreement in the United Kingdom parliament.

With the likelihood of a disruptive "no-deal" Brexit rising, the European Union is looking at how Brexit might be postponed, and pro-EU campaigners are testing ways Britain could hold another referendum after voters narrowly backed leaving in 2016.

Crucially, MPs will be able to make and vote on amendments to this Brexit Plan B, opening the door for a second referendum to be put to the Commons.

The government has now offered guarantees to local lawmakers in the province over the operation of the backstop, and on the free flow of trade between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said Sunday: "The backstop remains the poison which makes any vote for the withdrawal agreement so toxic".

May is also still seeking assurances on the operation of the backstop from European leaders, which she hopes to deliver before the vote next week.

May called off the December vote at the last minute when it became clear that a majority of lawmakers - from the governing Conservatives as well as opposition parties - opposed the deal, a compromise that has left both pro-European and pro-Brexit politicians unhappy.

She has promised to secure further assurances from the EU on the most controversial elements of the Brexit deal relating to Northern Ireland, and has held talks with European leaders in recent days.

Late on Tuesday, 303 MPs - among them more than a dozen former Conservative ministers - voted to restrict the government's taxation powers in a "no deal" scenario, against 296 who backed May.

May told lawmakers that Parliament had a choice: back her deal or risk Britain leaving the bloc without a deal, a scenario many businesses say would disrupt supply chains and hinder investment in the world's fifth largest economy. It passed by 308 votes to 297.

Duff, who is now President of the Spinelli Group and Visiting Fellow of the European Policy Centre, a Brussels-based think tank, said that amending the political declaration may not be the only way to convince MPs to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement and avoid a no-deal Brexit.

The opposition Labour Party said it will call for a vote of no confidence in the government if May loses on January 15.

Today's vote followed a furious exchange in Parliament sparked by speaker John Bercow's decision to allow MPs to vote on Mr Grieve's amendment.

A Government source speaking to The Times said Bercow allowed the amendment despite Commons clerks, whose job it is to advise the Speaker on Parliamentary procedure, telling him that amendments should not have been allowed.

While the current numbers suggest Mrs May will still lose the vote, her government has said it will not be postponed a second time and will go ahead next Tuesday evening.

Conservative lawmaker and former minister Ken Clarke meanwhile repeated his call for Brexit to be delayed while parliament decides what to do next.

In a move that has massive trade, business and political implications, Britain will leave the European Union on March 29 when the two-year period that governs the process by which a country can leave the bloc times out, the so-called Article 50 of the EU's governing treaty.