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Theresa May’s government have suffered yet another humiliating defeat in the House of Commons – this time on an amendment which forces her to return to the House with a Plan B for Brexit within just 3 days, should her deal get voted down, as expected, next week.
The amendment, put forward by pro-EU Tory MP Dominic Grieve, passed by a slim margin of 308 to 297, and cuts the time Theresa May is allowed to come up with a revised Brexit plan after any defeat from 21 days to just 3.
The vote significantly increases the possibility of Theresa May calling for either a second referendum of a snap General Election to break the deadlock.
However, in order to allow time for either of these options, the government would almost certainly need to propose an extension to Article 50, which would then need to be agree by all 27 EU member States.
Immediately prior to today’s crucial vote, the Speaker of the House, John Bercow, was forced to respond to over an hour of procedural questions from Tory MPs, most of whom were infuriated that the Speaker had allowed MPs a vote on the controversial amendment.
Brexit-backing Conservative MPs raised numerous ‘Points of Order’, claiming that Mr Bercow had broken Parliamentary rules by allowing the vote, and that he had even ignored advice from his own Clerks in allowing MPs a say on the amendment.
Many Tory MPs argued that the Business Motion put forward by the government was not amendable, and accused the Speaker of ignoring precedent by allowing a vote on Dominic Grieve’s amendment.
However, Mr Bercow insisted that he had made an “honest judgement” in his decision to allow a vote on the amendment, and argued that “if we were only ever guided by precedent, nothing would ever change“.
Today’s defeat is yet another humiliating blow for Theresa May’s government, who yesterday became the first ruling party in 41 years to be defeated on a Finance Bill vote after an amendment put forward by Labour MP Yvette Cooper which gives Parliament more say over a No Deal Brexit was passed by MPs.
Furthermore, Labour have declared that, should Theresa May’s Brexit deal get voted down next week, they will table an immediate motion of no confidence in the government.
Parliament will now spend the next five days debating Theresa May’s Brexit deal, with a vote expected to take place on January 15th.
Theresa May has already withdrawn one vote on her Brexit deal in December, and, given the catastrophic ramifications of any defeat for her grip on power, many are already speculating that she will again pull January’s vote.
However, given that Britain only has just over two months until it leaves the EU, what might happen should Theresa May pull this latest vote on her Brexit deal really is anybody’s guess.