Fresh Brexit setback for UK PM in MPs’ vote

The government lost by 11 votes

The government lost by 11 votes

Rebel Tory MPs have joined forces with Labour to inflict a fresh blow on Theresa May’s government in a Commons Brexit vote.

It means the government will have to come up with fresh plans within three days if Mrs May’s EU withdrawal deal is rejected by MPs next week.

It could also open the door to alternatives, such as a referendum.

The government lost by 11 votes, with 297 MPs voting with them and 308 against.

The government was expecting to have 21 days to come up with a “plan B” for Brexit if, as widely expected, Mrs May’s deal is voted down.

MPs have just begun five days of debate on Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement with the EU, and the framework for future relations, ahead of the vote on Tuesday.

Labour’s shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: “The government’s decision to delay the meaningful vote has run down the clock and increased the risk of a no-deal Brexit.

“If the prime minister’s Brexit deal is defeated next week, she must return to Parliament as soon as possible and give MPs a real say on what happens next.”

Tory rebel Sarah Wollaston said Mr Bercow’s decision had upset those who believed that giving the PM three weeks to decide her next move if her deal was rejected was the best route to a “run the clock down, crash-out, hard Brexit”.

She told the BBC that she and other MPs opposed to a no-deal exit were engaged in a “guerrilla campaign” to show that it would never get the consent of Parliament.

But Conservative Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said the defeat would not affect the UK’s scheduled departure from the EU on 29 March.

“It merely requires a motion to be tabled not even debated,” he said.

Commons Speaker John Bercow faced an angry backlash from some Conservative MPs over his decision to allow MPs to vote on the issue.

The MPs claim Mr Bercow broke Commons rules and ignored the advice of his own clerks.

Commons leader Andrea Leadsom was among MPs to challenge his ruling in a series of points of order after Prime Minister’s Questions.

They argued that the business motion, tabled by the government, was not amendable and said the Speaker was breaking with precedent.

Mr Bercow said he had made an “honest judgement” after consulting his clerks but rejected calls from Ms Leadsom to publish the advice he had received.


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