Brexiteer fury as Government confirms MPs to get vote on alternatives if they reject Theresa May's deal
Eurosceptic Tories have erupted in anger as Cabinet minister Greg Clark confirmed MPs will be given a vote on a string of Brexit alternatives if they reject Theresa May's deal for a third time.
Amid reports of a seven-way series of so-called 'indicative votes' on everything from a second referendum to a no-deal exit, the Business Secretary confirmed ministers would hand Parliament "the means to come to a view on the options available" if it again fails to back Mrs May's deal.
But one furious Brexiteer minister told PoliticsHome: "The Remainers have control."
Sky News reported on Friday that Number 10 was actively drawing up plans to hold a Commons vote on seven different Brexit outcomes.
They include revoking Article 50 altogether, holding a second referendum, backing Mrs May's deal, passing her deal combined with customs union membership and single market access, a free-trade agreement, or a no-deal departure from the EU.
The move follows growing demands from some backbenchers for the Commons to seize control of the deadlocked Brexit process.
Confirming the plan, Mr Clark told the BBC that ministers would offer MPs the chance to express their view on alternative options if they refuse to get behind the Prime Minister's ill-fated agreement.
"If it doesn't get past, it doesn't enjoy the support of Parliament, then the Government will facilitate... the ability of parliament to express a majority of what it would approve," he said.
"And so I think that's the right step."
Pointing to earlier comments from Mrs May's de facto deputy David Lidington - who had promised to "allow the house to seek a majority on the way forward" - Mr Clark said: "Every minister when they speak at the despatch box, speaks on behalf of the Gopvernment.
"And so the commitment that he made was that the Government would provide parliament with the means to come to a view on the options avialable."
And he made clear that the Government would offer MPs its own version of indicative votes rather than adopting a cross-party bid to secure the initiative.
"The commitment that the Govenrment has made seems, to me, very clear, that the Government will provide that," he said.
"So there's no reason why the Government should be forced to do something that it is committed to do anyway, which I think is the right thing."
However, it remains unclear precisely what options MPs will be asked to vote on, as well as how the Government will respond to the preferences expresed by MPs.
The move has already triggered an angry backlash from Brexiteers, with one normally-loyal minister telling PoliticsHome: "There are no words left to explain this. Just appalling. And with no consultation. No words left."
And they warned: "The Remainers have control."
Backbench Tories also rounded on the Prime Minister, with Mark Francois, a senior member of the European Research Group of MPs telling Sky News: "If the Government is going to allow unwhipped votes on indicative votes, if there is no government position on any of those issues about the future of our country, then there isn't really a government."
Fellow Brexiteer Marcus Fysh said the plan was "the most ludicrous, childish and unrealistic idea I have ever seen".
And Cabinet minister Liz Truss made her objection to the proposal known on Twitter.
Their comments came after Brexit minister Kwasi Kwarteng dropped a major hint that Tory MPs would not be ordered to vote in any particular way during such an exercise, and just hours after Brussels handed Mrs May a Brexit lifeline by offering a brief extension to the UK’s scheduled exit from the bloc.
After marathon talks on Thuesday, EU leaders agreed to delay Brexit up to the 22 May – but only if MPs back Mrs May’s deal.
If the blueprint is rejected for a third time, Britain will have until 12 April to set out its plans or leave without a deal.
But in a fresh blow for the Prime Minister, the DUP - who Mrs May relies on for her Commons majority - signalled it would again vote against her Brexit deal at any third attempt.
“The prime minister missed an opportunity at the EU Council to put forward proposals which could have improved the prospects of an acceptable withdrawal agreement and help unite the country," the party's deputy leader Nigel Dodds said.
"That failure is all the more disappointing and inexcusable given the clear divisions and arguments which became evident amongst EU member states when faced with outcomes they don’t like."