Westminster hoped to gain clarity in a series of indicative votes on alternative options for Brexit. It did not, as all were rejected by MPs.
The most popular amendment, put forward by Labour MP Margaret Beckett, called for any agreed withdrawal agreement to face a public vote. Despite failing to command a majority, many ‘people’s vote’ supporters are seeing this as a victory.
It received 26 more votes than PM Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement managed at its second reading earlier this month.
Breakdown of votes on Brexit alternatives:
- Option B (Baron) rejected 160-400
- Option D (Boles) rejected 188-283
- Option H (Eustice) rejected 65-377
- Option J (Clarke) rejected 264-272
- Option K (Corbyn) rejected 237-307
- Option L (Cherry) rejected 184-293
- Option M (Beckett) rejected 268-295
- Option O (Fysh) rejected 139-422
MPs will now vote again on Brexit options on Monday.
Following the announcement of the results, Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay told MPs they should now back the Prime Minister’s deal “in the national interest”.
He told the Commons: “The results of the process this House has gone through today strengthens our view that the deal the Government has negotiated is the best option.
“If you believe in delivering on the referendum result by leaving the EU with a deal, then it’s necessary to back the Withdrawal Agreement – if we do not do that, then there are no guarantees about where this process will end.”
The votes came after an already dramatic evening in Westminster, as Prime Minister May told Conservative MPs in a meeting of the 1922 Committee that she was prepared to resign before the second phase of Brexit if her deal was passed through the Commons.
However, within hours it seemed as though her sacrifice was made in vain, as DUP leader Arlene Foster told Sky News that the party would not be able to support Mrs May’s deal if it went before Parliament for a third meaningful vote.
It’s still unclear whether Speaker John Bercow will allow for a third meaningful vote, after he ruled that it would not be allowed unless substantial changes were made.
If a third vote on the deal is allowed, it doesn’t seem to matter whether it is accepted or not. In saying she would stand down, the Prime Minister has lost any authority that she might have still retained.
The general consensus is that she is now a fatally wounded leader, seeing out her last days, regardless of whichever way Brexit goes.