Theresa May and the government have suffered a third, and potentially final, defeat on their crucial Brexit Withdrawal deal in the House of Commons this afternoon.
Following a passionate 4-hour debate in Parliament, MPs voted the deal down by a reduced margin of 58, with 286 members voting in favour and 344 against.
Today’s latest defeat follows two previous losses on the deal, with the Prime Minister having now managed to reduce the margin of defeat from 230, to 149, to today’s 58-vote defeat.
Mrs May’s loss came despite arch Brexiteers, Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg, reneging on numerous previous statements to back the deal today.
In total, 34 Tory MPs voted against Mrs May’s deal, whilst just 5 Labour MPs – Kevin Barron, Rosie Cooper, Jim Fitzpatrick, Caroline Flint and John Mann – voted in favour.
Immediately following today’s latest humiliation for the government, both the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, and the SNP’s Westminster Leader, Ian Blackford, demanded the government call a General Election to break the impasse.
However, despite her deal having been comprehensively rejected for a third time, Theresa May insisted her government would continue its attempts to pass a deal in Parliament.
“I fear we are reaching the limits of this process in this House. This House has rejected No Deal, it has rejected no Brexit. On Wednesday it rejected all the variations on the deal on the table. And today it has rejected approving the Withdrawal Agreement alone, and continuing a process on the future.
This government will continue to press the case for the orderly Brexit that the result of the referendum demands.”
Responding to Theresa May’s statement, Jeremy Corbyn said:
“This is now the third time the Prime Minister’s deal has been rejected. When it was defeated the first time, the Prime Minister said ‘it’s clear this House does not support the deal’. Does she now finally accept that the House does not support the deal – because she seemed to indicate just now that she’s going to return to this issue again?
On Monday, this House has the chance to find a majority for a better deal for all the people of this country.
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.”
Whilst the SNP’s Ian Blackford stated:
“We should all be aware of the responsibilities that we all have in this house – the seriousness of the situation we are in. I would say respectfully to the Prime Minister that she now has to accept that her deal has been defeated three times. I applaud all members of the House who voted against the proposition – it is a bad deal. And we have to find a way out of the crisis that we are in. All of our constituents would expect that.
We must give ourselves time. And I suggest to the Prime Minister that we must now look seriously at the option of revocation [of Article 50]. We must apply the hand brake to this process. And quite simply, the Prime Minister has failed to take this deal forward. She does not have confidence of the House. The Prime Minister has indicated her departure – she should now go, and we should be having a General Election.”
Following the opposition statements, the House of Commons was immediately adjourned, and it remains entirely unclear as to what happens next.
As things stand, the UK is set the leave the EU without a withdrawal agreement on April 12th.
However, it is widely expected that the government will choose to seek to long extension to Article 50. But, for this to be accepted by all 27 EU member states, a clear change of direction will need to be given.
A General Election now looks by far the most likely option.