Theresa May suffers second humiliating defeat in 24 hours as MPs demand swift response if Brexit deal rejected

Posted On: 
9th January 2019

Theresa May today suffered another humiliating defeat as MPs backed an amendment ordering her to return to the Commons in just three days if her Brexit deal is rejected.

Theresa May is under serious pressure on Brexit
Credit: 
PA Images

MPs voted 308 to 297 for an amendment tabled by Tory MP Dominic Grieve which piles pressure on the Government to act fast to prevent a no-deal Brexit in the worst case scenario.

But the amendment prompted a furious row in the Commons, with pro-Brexit MPs suggesting Speaker John Bercow was biased towards Remain after he selected it for a vote.

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Before the tweak, Mrs May had 21 days to respond to the House if her Brexit deal is voted down next week and a further seven days before a vote would have to be held.

The amendment to reduce that to three sitting days quickly drew support from pro-EU MPs from across the political divide, including top Tories Oliver Letwin and Jo Johnson, and won enough support to defeat the Government.

After the result was announced, Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said ministers had “run down the clock and increased the risk of a no deal Brexit”.

He added: “If the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal is defeated next week, she must return to Parliament as soon as possible and give MPs a real say on what happens next.”

But leading Conservative Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg downplayed the loss, saying: "The vote that the Government has just lost does not affect Brexit. It merely requires a motion to be tabled not even debated."

MPs this afternoon began the first of five days of debate on the Withdrawal Agreement before the showdown vote on Tuesday.

The bid was launched shortly after the Prime Minister suffered yet another humiliating Commons defeat last night, as MPs showed there is a parliamentary majority against a no-deal Brexit.

In the first government defeat on the Finance Bill since 1978, MPs voted to limit the Treasury's powers to raise taxes if the UK quits the EU without a withdrawal agreement in place.

Elsewhere, Mrs May promised MPs that they will get a vote on whether or not to enter the controversial Northern Ireland backstop when the Brexit transition period draws to an end in 2020.