Jeremy Corbyn leads opposition calls for general election as Government hit by fresh Brexit vote defeat
Jeremy Corbyn has led calls from opposition party leaders for a general election after Theresa May’s Brexit deal was rejected by MPs for the third time.
The Commons rejected the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement by 344 votes to 286, sparking fresh uncertainty over how or whether the UK will leave the EU.
The Labour leader called on Mrs May to “finally accept” that her beleaguered deal could not win the support of the House and urged colleagues to find a solution to the impasse when the Commons is expected to vote on a series of potential routes forward in three days' time.
Speaking moments after the Prime Minister's latest defeat was confirmed, he said: "On Monday, this House has the chance, and I say to all members Mr Speaker, the responsibility, to find a majority to find a better deal for all the people of this country. Mr Speaker, the House has been clear, this deal now has to change.
"There has to be an alternative found. And if the Prime Minister can’t accept that then she must go. Not at an indeterminate date in the future, but now, so that we can decide the future of this country through a general election.”
Mrs May herself dropped a subtle hint that Britain could be heading for a general election, when she said: “I fear we are reaching the limits of this process in this House.”
Meanwhile SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said the PM “does not have the confidence of the House” and having indicated her departure earlier in the week urged her to stand aside and call for a fresh election.
He added: “We should all be aware of the responsibilities that we all have in this House. The seriousness of the situation that we are in.
"And I would say respectfully to the Prime Minister, she now has to accept that her deal has been defeated three times, and I applaud the members of parliament on all sides who voted against the Government’s proposition.
“It is a bad deal. And we have to find a way out of the crisis that we are in. all of our constituency would accept that. We must give ourselves time."
The Scottish Nationalists' chief also reiterated the party's support for stopping Brexit in its tracks entirely and revoking Article 50.
Elsewhere Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable and leader of Change UK – which today rebranded from the Independent Group - Heidi Allen, pushed for a second EU referendum.
Dr Cable said: “Today’s outcome was entirely predictable.
“No amount of parliamentary trickery can breathe life back into May’s deal. The only route to resolve the crisis is a final say with the option to Remain in the EU.
"A long extension to Article 50 is now clearly needed, and a People's Vote is the best way to persuade European leaders to agree one.”
Ms Allen added: “The Prime Minister must now seriously recognise this deal is over, and this House has a serious responsibility on Monday to find a solution to this impasse.
"There are jobs and livelihoods right across this country at stake now. The way out of this impasse as many of us have been saying for months and months and months, we must have a People’s Vote now."
A Downing Street spokesman later insisted that the Prime Minister does not support a general election, despite her comments in the House.
He said: "The point the Prime Minister made was that in any scenario where the House settles on any kind of deal, it will require the passage of this Withdrawal Agreement and as a result it's obviously a disappointment that the House chose not to take the opportunity to pass that Withdrawal Agreement."