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Once again, MPs fail to reach consensus on any Brexit option in series of votes

One proposal lost by just three votes tonight – and an MP has quit the Tory whip.

Image: House of Commons

Updated Apr 1st 2019, 10:40 PM

MPS IN THE House of Commons have once again rejected all of the alternative options put before them in the latest round of indicative Brexit votes this evening – with one option backing a customs union losing by just three votes. 

There were only four non-binding options before MPs tonight. A similar effort to reach a consensus on Brexit last Wednesday – when eight options were tabled – also failed. 

Here’s how they voted:

  • Customs Union – Ayes 273, Nos 276
  • Common Market 2.0 – Ayes 261, Nos 282 
  • Confirmatory Public Vote – Ayes 280, Nos 292
  • Revoke Article 50 if faced with no-deal Brexit – Ayes 191, Nos 292 

As these votes were not binding, Prime Minister Theresa May would have had the option of ignoring them if she so wished.

Nick Boles, the pro-EU Tory MP who had backed the Common Market 2.0 option, resigned the party whip in the immediate aftermath of the results being announced. 

May will hold the next meeting of her cabinet tomorrow, and there’s speculation she could yet bring her thrice-rejected withdrawal deal before the House later this week – possibly on Wednesday. 

The prime minister did not address MPs in the Commons in the wake of the voting process, but Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay said that the country could still avoid a no-deal exit by backing May’s battered deal. 

“The default legal position is that the UK will leave the EU in just 11 days’ time” without a deal, he said.

If the House were to agree a deal this week it may still be possible to avoid European parliamentary elections.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that if May could put her agreement to the House over and over again, other options should be put to votes again too. 

Corbyn had attempted to whip his MPs in favour of backing the Customs Union. There were, however, 10 Labour MPs who voted against, swinging the vote against the motion.

The first reaction from Europe came from Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, who said a hard Brexit is now “nearly inevitable”.

Tweet by @Guy Verhofstadt Source: Guy Verhofstadt/Twitter

Here’s what was put to MPs this evening:

(C) Customs union

  • Backed by Ken Clarke.

The veteran Tory MP’s motion would have instructed the government to ensure “that any Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration negotiated with the EU must include, as a minimum, a commitment to negotiate a permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union with the EU”.

(D) Common Market 2.0

  • Backed by Nick Boles.

The pro-EU Tory wanted the UK to join the European Free Trade Association (Efta) and enter the European Economic Area (EEA) and for a deal to allow continued participation in the single market and a “comprehensive customs arrangement” with the EU. There’s quite a bit to this one, in fact – more details here.

(E) Confirmatory Public Vote

  • Backed by Peter Kyle.

The Labour MP’s bill would have put any Brexit deal passed by parliament to the people before ratification.

(G) Revoke Article 50 if faced with no-deal Brexit

  • Backed by Joanna Cherry.

This motion from the SNP MP said that if there was no deal by 10 April an extension should be sought. If no extension was granted by the EU, it mandated the government to put a vote on no-deal to the House of Commons. If no-deal was rejected, the government would have been compelled to revoke Article 50 (which it can do unilaterally). 

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About the author:

Daragh Brophy & Sean Murray

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