Members of Parliament have this evening passed a vote which essentially means that Britain leaving the European Union without a deal is now an impossible scenario.
In the event of Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal being voted down in the House of Commons, the successful amendment – drafted by pro-EU Tory MP Dominic Grieve – now ensures that it will be MPs, and not the government, who decides the next course of action.
Given that a huge majority of MPs are completely opposed to leaving without a deal, the vote means that Britain crashing out of the European Union without an agreement is now not a feasible prospect.
The successful vote also means that Theresa May’s threat to MPs that next week’s meaningful Brexit deal vote is a choice between her deal or no deal is now entirely impotent.
Grieve’s amendment passed by a large margin of 321 to 299, and ensured that Theresa May’s ailing minority government have been defeated all three crucial Brexit votes this evening.
Parliament now on to debating the Grieve amendment – this is the one that would mean MPs could vote to instruct the govt what to do if May's plan falls – eg vote for another referendum, or to stay in a Customs Union
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) December 4, 2018
The point of the Grieve amendment, that may be voted on today, is to make next week's vote on @theresa_may's Brexit plan more "meaningful" – and to increase the power of MPs to decide what kind of Brexit, or no Brexit, will transpire. The point is that right now if she loses…
— Robert Peston (@Peston) December 4, 2018
Theresa May will be deeply concerned – MPs will vote today on Grieve's amendment.
If Grieve wins (which seems likely!) it will mean that MPs will get a vote on whether the UK crashes out of the EU with no-deal.
May's my deal or no-deal claim will go out the window.
— Shehab Khan (@ShehabKhan) December 4, 2018
Grieve’s amendment passes comfortably, 321-299. Don’t give too much weight to the “it’s not legally binding” chat. This is huge. Gives MPs the right to instruct government what to do next if/when the deal is voted down – politically very tough to ignore. “Take back control”…
— Adam Payne (@adampayne26) December 4, 2018
Another huge Government defeat – to my mind even more important than losing the contempt motion – as the Grieve amendment explicitly gives parliament the power to amend any motion that the Govt tables, in the event it loses next week’s vote, to specify how we go forward.
— Liz Kendall (@leicesterliz) December 4, 2018
Here's the 26 Tories who backed Grieve amendment. Vaizey and Wollaston complete the list. pic.twitter.com/jabf2qq57O
— Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) December 4, 2018
Following news of a no deal Brexit effectively being outlawed, Sterling immediately rallied:
Sterling rallies from year's low as 'Grieve amendment' gives parliament say over next #Brexit steps if PM May loses Dec 11 ballot – majority presumed to be against 'no deal' Brexit… pic.twitter.com/7tHdtHBvXP
— Mike Dolan (@reutersMikeD) December 4, 2018
What happens next?
MPs will vote on Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal on Tuesday 11th December. When, as is widely expected, this fails, the Prime Minister will have 21 days to renegotiate the deal with the EU and then return to Parliament with a motion.
Dominic Grieve’s successful amendment means that MPs will now be allowed to amend this renegotiated deal – effectively, and ironically, allowing Members of Parliament to literally take back control of the UK’s Brexit deal from Theresa May.
However, the Prime Minister may not even get the chance to renegotiate her deal, as the Labour Party have strongly indicated they will immediately submit a motion of no confidence against the government, should they lose the meaningful vote on December 11th.
But, if the government somehow manage to survive this, Theresa May’s hands will now be tied by the majority of MPs – meaning that the chances of a much softer Brexit, or even a second referendum, have just increased significantly.
However, in one final twist to this unprecedented situation, Theresa May’s other threat that voting her deal down might result in “no Brexit at all” also now looks more likely – a scenario which could, incredibly, see her hard-Brexit-backing MPs doing a full 180 u-turn to now support her proposed Brexit deal on Tuesday in an attempt to ensure Brexit does actually go through.