MPs Reject No-Deal Brexit And Defeat Theresa May – So What Next?
MPs will vote on delaying Brexit tomorrow.
MPs have voted to reject a no-deal Brexit “under any circumstance”, inflicting yet another humiliating defeat on Theresa May.
The prime minister herself tabled a motion to stop a no-deal Brexit from happening on March 29, while also acknowledging that it was impossible to take it off the table for the future without passing some kind of withdrawal deal.
But instead, on Wednesday night MPs outright rejected leaving with no deal, passing a cross-party amendment by 312 votes to 308 – a majority of just four.
The government then lost a second vote on ruling out no-deal by an even bigger margin of 321 to 278.
But the PM said despite the votes, no-deal remains the default legal option if agreement is reached.
MPs are now expected to vote tomorrow to ask the EU for an extension of the Article 50 exit process, which would see the Brexit date pushed back.
It comes after a gruelling two days for the prime minister, as she lost her voice and battled to convince MPs to support her and cabinet splits burst open in public.
The PM had herself had proposed rejecting no deal, but the complex nature of her motion, which kept no deal on the table in the longer term for negotiating leverage, was rejected.
So what happens now?
Westminster’s attention is now expected to turn to how the UK gets the EU to agree to an Article 50 extension.
A cross-party group is planning to force May to consider different Brexit options as a way of breaking the logjam.
But the PM herself could seek to see off another potential defeat by offering the so-called “indicative votes”.
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier today warned “the risk of no deal has never been higher” and that it could happen “by accident”.
He told the European Parliament: “Why would we extend these discussions? The discussion on Article 50 is done and dusted. We have the Withdrawal Agreement. It is there.
“That is the question asked and we are waiting for an answer to that.
Chancellor Philip Hammond used his spring statement go rogue in backing a softer Brexit while warning that no deal would mean “significant disruption in the short and medium-term and a smaller, less prosperous economy in the long term than if we leave with a deal”.
“Higher unemployment, lower wages, higher prices in the shops – that is not what the British people voted for in June 2016,” he said.
But Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said he would prefer no deal – even though it risks economic harm and threatens to break up the United Kingdom – to no Brexit.
He told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme: “Between those very unpleasant choices, I think no Brexit is the bigger risk.” Read more