Remain MPs have warned Theresa May that she cannot run from democracy, as Downing Street confirmed the meaningful vote on the government’s Brexit plan would be delayed.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said: ‘Theresa May appears to have marched her depleted troops to the top of the hill only to lose her nerve. She is hopelessly weakened.
‘There is little point postponing the vote when nothing concerning the deal will change. The Conservatives are wilfully prolonging Brexit uncertainty because they can’t get their deal through Parliament.
‘This deadlock must be broken by giving the people the final say, including the opportunity to remain in the EU.’
Green MP Caroline Lucas tweeted: ‘You can’t run from democracy, Theresa May.
‘PM’s Brexit deal is destined to fail and she’s grasping at straws to stay in power – but it’s clearer than ever she’s lost control. We no longer have a functioning government. Parliament must deliver a People’s Vote now.’
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: ‘This government is falling apart before our eyes. The prime minister’s deal is so bad she isn’t even willing to put it to Parliament. The country deserves better than this.’
Labour MP David Lammy, a supporter of the Best for Britain campaign for a second referendum, said: ‘This is an unprecedented and historic humiliation for Theresa May. This is recognition of what has been clear for months: there is no majority for her miserable Brexit deal in Parliament.
‘It is impossible to deliver on the 2016 referendum result because it was based on false promises and fantasy. No negotiations in Brussels will change this fact.
‘Our politics is now well and truly stuck. The way to unblock it is to go back to the public with a people’s vote, which will either offer a mandate for a specific form of Brexit, or to remain in the EU.’
Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon accused May of ‘pathetic cowardice’ and urged Labour to table a vote of no confidence in the prime minister, which she said the SNP would support.
‘If Labour, as official opposition, lodges a motion of no confidence in this incompetent government tomorrow, the SNP will support and we can then work together to give people the chance to stop Brexit in another vote.
‘This shambles can’t go on – so how about it?’
Suspended Labour MP Ivan Lewis suggested that a government of national unity was now needed.
‘Government of national unity may be possible with different PM, time limited until Brexit deal agreed,’ said Mr Lewis on Twitter.
He said that any such administration would need to adopt a Brexit negotiating position in line with Labour’s position and protecting the sanctity of the Union, while also agreeing to scrap or reform Universal Credit and end school budget cuts.
Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, tweeted: ‘I can’t follow anymore. After two years of negotiations, the Tory government wants to delay the vote. Just keep in mind that we will never let the Irish down. This delay will further aggravate the uncertainty for people & businesses. It’s time they make up their mind!’
Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts said: ‘The prime minister is running scared. She can only delay the inevitable loss. She made promises that she cannot deliver and now she is coming up against reality.
‘The only single person who can stop a no-deal Brexit is the prime minister. By delaying this vote she is personally making a no-deal Brexit more likely.
Conservative Remain MP Anna Soubry said on Twitter: ‘PM said there’d be no general election and there was. PM said there’d definitely be a vote tomorrow and there won’t be.
‘PM said there definitely won’t be a People’s Vote. Get ready People’s Vote, taking this matter back to the people is the only way out of this Brexit chaos.’