Theresa May's deputy David Lidington 'held talks with opposition' on plan to let MPs vote on Brexit alternatives

Posted On: 
23rd March 2019

The Prime Minister’s de facto deputy David Lidington held talks with opposition leaders about holding a series of votes in Parliament on alternative Brexit plans, it has emerged.

An opposition source told the Times:  "He was keen to discuss whether there should be indicative ballots [when MPs can vote for each alternative they like] or exhaustive ballots [where each round narrows the choice until one option is ultimately selected].”

His conversations with opposition figures go further than what Number 10 has previously indicated would happen if Mrs May's day is defeated.

Downing Street has said publicly only that it would “facilitate a process... to consider the potential ways forward” if parliament rejects the Prime Minister's proposed Brexit plan for a third time next week.

Cabinet minister Greg Clark on Friday said 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.

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But Brexiteers have already expressed their anger about the possibility of such ballots, fearing it could lead to a softer Brexit.

Such votes could still take place even if the government itself does not decide to call them.

Senior MPs Hilary Benn, Yvette Cooper and Nick Boles put down a motion - to be voted on on Monday - that is likely to force such an exercise.

Former Cabinet Office Minister Sir Oliver Letwin helped develop the plan with Mr Boles.

He told The Times: "We believe that we have the numbers to pass the amendment on Monday and thereby guarantee indicative votes on Wednesday.”

Meanwhile, those who support a so-called 'Common Market 2.0' plan - that would see Britain stay in the single market and enter a customs arrangement with the EU - are waiting to hear if Labour will back their proposals.