Humiliation for Theresa May as MPs inflict fresh Brexit defeat following Tory rebellion
Theresa May has been dealt another huge blow after a rebellion by Tory eurosceptics saw her defeated again over Brexit.
In yet another humiliation for the embattled Prime Minister, the House of Commons voted 303 to 258 against a government motion on her strategy for leaving the European Union.
Members of the hardline European Research Group abstained on the motion, which endorsed “the approach to leaving the EU” backed by the Commons on 29 January.
In a vote that that night, MPs backed calls to replace the Irish backstop with "alternative arrangements", but they also said a no-deal Brexit should be ruled out.
The ERG demaded that the wording of the motion be changed to make clear that leaving the EU without a deal remained on the table, but the Government refused.
Although the motion was non-binding and the vote has no practical effect, it is still a huge blow for the Prime Minister as she tries to win concessions from the EU on the Brexit deal.
Earlier, a spokesman for Mrs May had made a last-ditch plea for Tory MPs to rally behind her in order to "send another clear message to Brussels".
Instead, she will have to continue negotiations with EU chiefs with fresh doubt cast on what type of Brexit deal MPs may actually support.
So far, Brussels has insisted that it will not re-open with legally-binding Withdrawal Agreement, which contains the backstop plan to maintain an open border in Ireland.
Mrs May has said she will return to the Commons by 27 February with either a deal or, if not, a fresh vote so MPs can consider various options on how to proceed.
Meanwhile, splits in the Labour party over Brexit also re-surfaced after around 40 of their MPs rebelled against the whip to vote for an SNP attempt to extend Article 50. However, it was defeated by 315 to 93.
Speaking after the result of the vote was announced, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "Tonight’s vote shows there is no majority for the Prime Minister’s curse of action in dealing with Brexit.
"Yet again her Government has been defeated. The Government cannot keep on ignoring parliament or ploughing on towards the 29 March without a coherent plan.
"She cannot keeping on running down the clock and hoping that something will turn up that will save her day and save her face."