Commons plunged into fresh chaos as MPs reject every alternative Brexit plan

Posted On: 
27th March 2019

The House of Commons has been plunged into fresh chaos after MPs rejected every alternative to Theresa May's Brexit deal.

Parliament is completely deadlocked on Brexit.
PA Images

On a night of extraordinary drama, none of the eight different motions chosen for a series of historic indicative votes received a majority.

It means that no plan proposed throughout the Brexit process - including the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with Brussels by the Prime Minister - has won the backing of a majority of MPs.

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The most popular proposal with 268 votes was the one tabled by Labour MPs Margaret Beckett, Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson proposing that any deal passed by the Commons should be put to a referendum. However, 295 MPs voted against it.

The next most popular, with 268, was former Tory Cabinet minister Ken Clarke's call for the UK to enter into a customs union with the EU. But it was also defeated after 272 MPs voted against it.

Labour's plan for a permanent customs union and close single market relationship lost by 307 votes to 237, while MPs rejected calls for a no-deal Brexit by 400 votes to 160.

It is now expected that the Commons will go through the whole process again on Monday as Parliament seeks to identify an option which can command the support of a majority of MPs.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Baker said the results showed that MPs should support the Prime Minister's deal, even though it has already been rejected twice by the Commons.

He said: "It demonstrates that there are no easy options here. There is no simple way forward. The deal the Government has negotiated is a compromise with the EU and members across this House.

"The results of this process strengthens our view that the deal the Government has negotiated is the best option."

But Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, who backs a second referendum, said: "Parliament has finally begun to confront the painful choices that need to be made about Brexit.

"I’m proud that the overwhelming majority of Labour MPs have tonight joined together with those from all sides to back compromise proposals for a confirmatory public vote on the final deal. 

"The majority of MPs and the British people do not want the Prime Minister’s broken Brexit deal. Nor do either the public or Parliament back crashing out of the EU without a deal. Tonight has shown there is growing support for our compromise solution."

Lib Dem leader Vince Cable said: "As anticipated, the Commons has not produced an absolutely clear way forward, but it is clearer where the centre of gravity now is.

"What is essential is that whichever Brexit option the Government pursues, it is put to the public in a confirmatory referendum. We have led calls for a people’s vote for nearly three years, and we believe it remains as crucial this evening as at any time since 2016."