Meaningful vote, meaningless changes - MPs defeat May's Brexit plan again

PUBLISHED: 19:22 12 March 2019 | UPDATED: 21:07 12 March 2019

MPs in the House of Commons for the result of the Meaningful Vote. Photograph: Mark Duffy/House of Commons.

MPs in the House of Commons for the result of the Meaningful Vote. Photograph: Mark Duffy/House of Commons.

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Theresa May has faced another humiliating defeat in the House of Commons after her Brexit deal was defeated yet again.

The day of drama started with attorney general Geoffrey Cox declaring that little had changed in terms of legal assurances around the backstop, and saw Theresa May pleading with MPs to vote for her plan, despite losing her voice.

She appeared to fail to win support from the Democratic Unionist Party or Tory Brexiteer MPs in the European Research Group.

By the end of the evening MPs had voted by 391 to 242 against her Brexit plan in a second “meaningful vote”. It was a majority of 149 against the plan.

The spotlight now turns to MPs voting on a no-deal Brexit tomorrow which, if defeated, could lead to a vote on extending Article 50.

However there is some specultation that that the prime minister could bring a third meaningful vote again before the UK is due to leave the European Union - in 17 days time on March 29th.

A vote of no confidence could also be called by the opposition.

Former defence minister and leading Conservative supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, Guto Bebb MP, said: “Tonight, the House of Commons has again decisively voted against a deal that failed to honour the promises made for Brexit both during and since the last referendum.

“MPs have rejected proposals that would have damaged the living standards of our constituents, repelled investment in our communities and restricted opportunities for young people.

“Parliament has ignored warnings from the Prime Minister that losing her deal would plunge politics into crisis and has, instead, recognised that leaving the EU on these terms would have merely guaranteed that this crisis went on and on.

“In the days and weeks ahead, MPs will have to make more decisions on this crucial issue. They should make sure that any extension of the Article 50 deadline is used to deliver the clarity about Brexit that has been missing from the last two-and-a-half years of debate. We will have to decide whether we want still to be bound to EU rules over which we will no longer have any influence to avoid deeper economic damage, or whether to pay a huge price to go it alone.

“When these real costs and new facts are properly debated, MPs will also have the chance to consider whether it’s only fair to give the public a real say and a new vote - or it they want to force Brexit on the British people anyway.

“I do not doubt how difficult this decision will be for many of my colleagues on both sides of the House. But the case for putting it to the people is getting clearer by the day.”

Best for Britain supporter David Lammy MP said: “This is yet another humiliating defeat for the most chaotic and destructive British government in living memory.

“Today parliament has voted against Theresa May’s deal. Later this week, we will most likely vote against no-deal. It is now time for the leaders of this country to accept that the problem is not this deal or that deal. The problem is Brexit itself.

“The fantasy promised to voters in 2016 is impossible. We simply cannot leave the EU but keep the benefits membership entails.

“The only way left for the Prime Minister to save her deal, which surrenders our sovereignty and fails to protect jobs across the country, is to put it to the British people.”

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