MPs vote against no deal Brexit but reject Article 50 extension

PUBLISHED: 20:00 29 January 2019 | UPDATED: 21:07 29 January 2019

Yvette Cooper in the House of Commons. Photograph: Jessica Taylor/PA.

Yvette Cooper in the House of Commons. Photograph: Jessica Taylor/PA.

MPs have issued an order to Theresa May to prevent a no-deal Brexit as they passed an amendment which rejects the UK leaving the EU without a deal.

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The cross-party plan, headed by Tory Dame Caroline Spelman and Labour’s Jack Dromey, won by 318 votes to 310.

The amendment’s success came after MPs rejected a bid to delay Brexit in order to prevent a no-deal departure from the European Union.

Labour MP Yvette Cooper’s call for an extension of Article 50 to keep the UK in the EU until the end of the year in order to reach a deal was defeated by 321 votes to 298 - a majority of 23.

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Jeremy Corbyn in the House of Commons. Photograph: Jessica Taylor/PA.Jeremy Corbyn in the House of Commons. Photograph: Jessica Taylor/PA.

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It was supported by the Labour frontbench as well as Tories including Nick Boles.

Theresa May in the House of Commons. Photograph: Jessica Taylor/PA.Theresa May in the House of Commons. Photograph: Jessica Taylor/PA.

And another cross-party amendment, tabled by Labour’s Rachel Reeves, which would have required the prime mnister to seek an extension of Article 50 if no deal had been reached by February 26, was also defeated.

Earlier, MPs rejected a bid by Jeremy Corbyn to force a debate on Labour’s Brexit plans.

Graham Brady’s amendment also passed - with a majority of 16 votes - after backbench Brexiteers in the European Research Group announced they would support it.

But May’s hopes of reopening the Withdrawal Agreement struck with the EU last November were dealt a blow by French president Emmanuel Macron, who described it as “not renegotiable”.

Speaking in Cyprus moments before MPs voted, Macron said: “As the European Council in December clearly indicated, the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated between the UK and EU is the best agreement possible.

“It is not renegotiable.”

Macron called on May to present the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier with her next steps for avoiding a no-deal Brexit on March 29, which he said “no-one wants, but ... we must all, despite everything, prepare for”.

Following the result, May said she now had a mandate to take back for further negotiations with the EU.

She said: “Tonight a majority of members have said they would support a deal with changes to the backstop combined with measures to address concerns over parliament’s role in the negotiation of the future relationship and commitments on workers’ rights in law where need be.

“It’s now clear there is a route that can secure a substantial and sustainable majority in this House for leaving the EU with a deal.

“We will now take this mandate forward and seek to obtain legally binding changes to the Withdrawal Agreement that deal with concerns on the backstop while guaranteeing no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.”

Alison McGovern MP, a leading supporter of People’s Vote, said that parliament “will continue to be gridlocked and the only way forward now is a public vote”.

She said: “The effect of this Brady amendment is open up another round of fantasy Brexit. It means the government will go back to Brussels yet again, telling the EU to rip up the Withdrawal Agreement and allow a transition period without a backstop. The EU says this can’t happen

“But even if there was a last-minute concession by the EU on the backstop, with all the risks to peace in Ireland that would entail, this amendment ignores the fact that most MPs who voted against the prime minister’s deal have concerns that go way beyond the backstop.”

David Lammy from the Best for Britain campaign said that “the government has stuck two fingers up to the EU”.

“It has pushed through fantasy politics that undermines the Irish peace agreement. Any attempt to put a time-limit on the backstop will be rejected outright by our European partners. The country is now rudderless, steered by a captain who would rather daydream than face reality.

“This constitutional crisis is deepening. Parliament has expressed a desire to stop no-deal – but I am concerned that without legislation in place its probability has increased. Now more than ever, it is vital that we turn up the noise and stand up for what is right. Brexit will be a historic mistake and pro-Europeans must make every effort to make that truth heard.”

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