House of Commons rejects Theresa May’s Brexit deal
Jeremy Corbyn tables motion of no confidence in prime minister’s government
British MPs have resoundingly rejected Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement.
The prime minister’s deal was defeated by 432 votes to 202 in a landmark House of Commons ballot on Tuesday night. A total of 118 Conservative Party MPs voted against the agreement.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn introduced a motion of no confidence in the government which will be debated in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
Mr Corbyn said the result was a catastrophic defeat for the government, “the greatest defeat since the 1920s”.
He said “no deal” must be taken off the table and a permanent customs union must be secured.
Speaking after the vote, Mrs May said: “The House has spoken and the government will listen. It is clear that the House does not support this deal but tonight’s vote tells us what it does support.
“Nothing about how or even if it intends to honour the decision in a referendum parliament decided to hold.”
If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) January 15, 2019
The prime minister said EU citizens in the UK and British expats living on the continent “deserve clarity on these questions as soon as possible”.
The Democratic Unionist Party indicated they would support the government in the upcoming no confidence motion.
The rejection of the Withdrawal Agreement gives Mrs May until January 21st to set out her Plan B – expected to involve going back to Brussels to seek further concessions.
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker urged the UK government to “clarify its intentions as soon as possible. Time is almost up. The risk of a disorderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom has increased.”
Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon insisted a second European referendum was now the “only credible option”.
Ms Sturgeon also demanded the prime minister stop the clock on article 50 to “avoid any possibility of the UK crashing out of the EU on March 29th without a deal”.
Moments before the vote, Mrs May told MPs: “Parliament gave the people a choice, we set the clock ticking on our departure and tonight we will determine whether we move forward with a Withdrawal Agreement that honours the vote and sets us on course for a better future.
“The responsibility of each and every one of us at this moment is profound, for this is a historic decision that will set the future of our country for generations.”
The Labour leader had called on MPs to vote down the agreement, saying: “This deal is bad for our economy, a bad deal for our democracy, and a bad deal for this country.”
UK attorney general Geoffrey Cox appeared to indicate that the prime minister would resist pressure to tear up her plan or to seek cross-party consensus on a new approach.
He told MPs that if defeated the agreement would have to return to the Commons later “in much the same form with much the same content”.
MPs had agreed to vote on a series of four amendments but Labour, the Scottish National Party and Sir Edward Leigh all decided to withdraw them.
Representatives voted against an amendment proposed by Tory backbencher John Baron, which aimed to force the government to change the Brexit deal to make it conditional on Britain having the unilateral right to end the so-called Northern Irish backstop. The amendment was defeated by 600 votes to 24. – Agencies