Downing Street say 'no plans' for votes on Brexit alternatives despite Cabinet revolt

Posted On: 
17th December 2018

Downing Street has insisted there are "no plans" to hold a series of special Commons votes on Brexit, despite Cabinet ministers publicly calling for them.

Mrs May's spokesperson insisted there were 'no plans' for indicative votes on a Brexit way forward.
Credit: 
PA

A string of top ministers have now openly suggested that the Government call a succession of non-binding "indicative" votes on potential ways forward if MPs reject Theresa May's Brexit deal.

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd and Business Secretary Greg Clark this morning became the latest senior figures to back such a move.

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But the Prime Minister's spokesperson said: "What you've seen from all Cabinet ministers is a commitment to getting the deal which the Prime Minister agreed with Brussels through the House of Commons and doing that by continuing to work for further assurances from the EU.

"In relation to an indicative vote, there are no plans to hold one."

The brush-off from Number 10 came as Ms Rudd and Mr Clark openly advocated for MPs to have a say on alternatives should Mrs May's deal fail to get through the Commons.

Ms Rudd told Sky News she wanted the Prime Minister's deal to pass.

But the Work and Pensions Secretary added: "After that, we need to find out where the will of parliament is, where the majority of MPs will vote in Parliament

"And nothing should be off the table, we should consider all options."

The top Cabinet minister said: "My main point is, let’s try to get this through, but let’s think about how we test the will of Parliament to find out where the majority is. That, after all, is what people expect us to do."

Meanwhile Mr Clark urged Parliament to move from being "critics of the agreement" to playing a more proactive role.

"It’s important once the prime minister has finished her negotiations with other European leaders, and they reach a conclusion, that parliament votes on that," the Business Secretary hold the Today programme.

"If that were not to be successful, we do need to have an agreement. 

"We can’t just have continuing uncertainty. I think Parliament should be invited to say what it would agree with. 

"That’s something I think businesses up and down the country would expect elected responsibility for, rather than just being critics.

The pair join International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Education Secretary Damian Hinds in calling for Parliament to be allowed to allowed to hold indicative votes to try and gauge support for alternatives.

It has been reported that Chancellor Philip Hammond, Justice Secretary David Gauke, Scotland Secretary David Mundell and Mrs May's de-facto deputy, David Lidington are also backing the plan.

'BREAKING FAITH'

Mrs May will this afternoon update MPs on her efforts to secure changes to the controversial Northern Ireland backstop element of her deal after a bruising European Council summit.

Downing Street was last week forced to pull scheduled vote on the PM's deal in the face of certain defeat in the House of Commons.

She will warn MPs today that those pushing for a second referendum on Brexit risk breaking "faith with the British people by trying to stage" a fresh vote.

But a spokesperson for the European Commission made clear that Brussels is not willing to "reopen" talks on her deal.

"The EU Council has given the clarifications that were possible at this stage so no further meetings with the UK are foreseen," they added.