Cabinet ministers revolt as MPs vote to extend Article 50 past March 29

The House of Commons has voted to extend Article 50 until June 30, in a bid to find a resolution to the Brexit impasse that has consumed Parliament.

The prime minister will now approach the European Union to seek the extension, which is not guaranteed.

Following two government defeats in as many days, MPs ruled out PM Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement for a second time, and leaving the European Union on March 29 with no deal “in any circumstance”.

Tonight, the prime minister presented a motion to delay Brexit until the end of June.

In a rare clean sweep for the PM Theresa May, all amendments to her motion were rejected, and she claimed a majority of 210 votes.

The first amendment which went before the House, tabled by The Independent Group’s Sarah Wollaston MP,   called for a second referendum.  It was defeated by a majority of 249 votes.

Labour whipped it’s MPs in abstaining from voting on the amendment, however 25 of them, including Stella Creasy and David Lammy, broke the whip in order to support a second referendum.

Hilary Benn MP’s (L) amendment, which attempted to take control of parliamentary time from the government was also defeated, however by the slimmest of majorities: two.

For the second night in a row, a handful of Cabinet ministers voted against the prime minister. Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay, international trade secretary Liam Fox,  defense secretary Gavin Williamson, Commons leader Andrea Leadsom, Welsh secretary Alun Cairns, transport secretary Chris Grayling, international development secretary Penny Mordaunt and chief treasury secretary Liz Truss all voted in opposition to delaying Brexit past March 29.

Almost 60% of her party also voted against the extension. 188 of the 330 Conservative MPs rejected the motion.

Following the vote, a spokesperson for the European Commission said:

“We take note of tonight’s votes. A request for an extension of Article 50 requires the unanimous agreement of all 27 Member States. It will be for the European Council (Article 50) to consider such a request, giving priority to the need to ensure the functioning of the EU institutions and taking into account the reasons for and duration of a possible extension. President Juncker is in constant contact with all leaders.”

Michel Barnier, chief Brexit negotiator for the EU, also tweeted that he was “determined” to defend the interests of the European Union,  and to build an “ambitious” future relationship between the UK and Europe.

It is expected that should the EU approve the extension, PM Theresa May will once again attempt to get her withdrawal agreement through Parliament.

Health secretary Matt Hancock MP told Sky News that he still held out hope of getting Prime Minister May’s deal approved by MPs ahead of March 29: “I still want to deliver the Prime Minister’s deal by March 29, that is my preference.

“It is very difficult and tight to do that, but it is possible and tonight’s votes confirm that.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s