EXPLAINED: How the political media thinks Parliament’s meaningful vote result will add up

Posted On: 
6th December 2018

On Tuesday Theresa May is set to face one of the greatest challenges of any modern Prime Minister in getting her Brexit agreement over the line.

Theresa May needs to persuade MPs to back her Brexit deal by Tuesday
PA Images

Updated on 9 December

The PM needs 320 MPs to back her in the meaningful vote, on a deal which has further divided the Tory party, disillusioned the DUP and seen the opposition parties queuing up to knock it down.

Yet neat splits along party lines or referendum partisanship apply less than ever and with much at stake, MPs have their own individual reasons to either back or reject the deal.

Some of the countries’ major titles are drilling down and crunching the numbers to find out if the PM can still pull it out of the bag… or by how many hundreds of votes the deal could sink.


Sky News expects 399 MPs to vote down Mrs May’s deal, with 181 in favour and 49 as yet undeclared.

The broadcaster reckons that on the day, she will fall short of her target by at least 170 votes.

249 Labour MPs meanwhile are against the deal, they say, with five undeclared, while just Caroline Flint of Brexit-backing Don Valley will row behind it.

Furthermore 94 Tories, all 10 DUP MPs, every SNP member and Green MP Caroline Lucas will all vote against it.

All 11 Lib Dems will also vote it down, after Stephen Lloyd resigned the whip in order to back the deal.


The Guardian has worked out that 419 MPs will vote against the deal next week, with 220 in favour – when factoring in the 39 who they say are as yet unconfirmed.

The paper's regularly-updated research says 100 Conservative MPs will vote down the agreement, compared to 215 who will back it.

Meanwhile 254 Labour MPs are expected to vote it down, with only Dudley North’s Ian Austin and Ms Flint in favour.

Former Labour MP Frank Field is also expected to back the deal, as is independent Northern Ireland unionist Sylvia Hermon, although both are “unconfirmed”.

The remaining MPs are expected to follow their party whips by rejecting it.


The Sun’s analysis from 27 November suggests the PM will fall short by around 200 votes.

Like The Guardian, the paper reckons that 418 could vote against the deal, compared to 221 in favour of it.

However they say 210 Tories will back the deal compared to the 107 against it.

Interestingly, the paper thinks 10 Labour rebels could support the Government, compared to 247 who will vote against the deal.


BuzzFeed’s updated list predicts that 104 Tory MPs won't vote for Mrs May's Brexit deal.

They've provided a rolling list, which is regularly updated, on those giving the Chief Whip a headache.


Conservative Home have done their analysis on the numbers of Tories opposed to the deal.

The blog insists its tests are “somewhat stricter” than other estimates however, writing: “Simply supporting Stand Up 4 Brexit, or criticising Chequers, or even writing a letter of no confidence in the Prime Minister, is not in itself enough to be taken as proof of opposition to the deal.”

They have, at the time of writing, reached the conclusion that 68 Conservative MPs will vote it down - more than enough to defeat the Prime Minister.


The BBC’s analysis from 26 November insists that the “parliamentary arithmetic can only be an estimate so all numbers should be treated with caution”.

Nevertheless, the figures look no more reassuring for the PM, with 80-90 Tory rebels expected, compared with 226 loyalists.

The broadcaster has not ruled out a larger number of Labour MPs swinging behind the deal however, with 15 or more potentially backing Mrs May.


The New Statesman declared on 15 November, as the contents of the agreement began to spill out, that it was “abundantly clear that Theresa May does not have enough Conservative votes to secure a Commons majority for her Brexit deal”.

Considering factors such as government resignations, no confidence letters in the PM, and those who have outright said they won’t vote for it, the magazine found that “at the very least” a total of 98 Tories would vote against it.

Adding together the DUP’s stance, the one declared Lib Dem rebel, and the diminishing number of Labour MPs willing to back it, it concluded: “Failure is inevitable”.


PA expects 350 MPs to vote against the deal compared to 224 in favour. The news agency reckons that 22 Tories are unhappy with the deal, 43 have said they won’t vote for it and 29 have said they will vote against.