Brexit: No majority for any options after MPs’ votes

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Media captionSpeaker John Bercow announced the results of the eight Brexit indicative votes

None of MPs’ eight proposed options for Brexit has secured clear backing following a Commons vote.

Calls for a customs union with the EU were rejected by 272 to 264 votes while a call for a referendum to endorse any deal was rejected by 295 to 268 votes.

Brexit Secretary Steven Barclay said the results strengthened ministers’ view their deal was “the best option”.

The results capped a day of drama in which Theresa May promised to stand down as PM if her deal was passed.

The prime minister told a meeting of Tory MPs she would leave office earlier than planned if it guaranteed Parliament’s backing for her withdrawal agreement with the EU.

Her announcement prompted a number of Tory opponents of her deal to signal their backing but the Democratic Unionists suggested they would continue to oppose the agreement.

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MPs hoped Wednesday’s unprecedented series of “indicative votes” would help break the parliamentary deadlock over Brexit.

The failure to identify a clear way forward led to angry exchanges in the Commons with critics of the process saying it had been “an abject failure”.

Labour’s alternative plan for Brexit – including “close alignment” with the single market and protections for workers’ rights – was defeated by 307 votes to 237.

Five other propositions – including backing for a no-deal exit, the so-called Common Market 2.0 plan, a proposal to remain in the European Economic Area and one to stop the Brexit process by revoking Article 50 – all failed to secure the backing of a majority of MPs.

How MPs voted

  • Customs union – For: 264 Against: 272
  • Confirmatory referendum – For: 268 Against: 295
  • No-deal exit on 12 April – For: 160 Against: 400
  • Common Market 2.0 – For: 188 Against: 283
  • EFTA and EEA membership – For: 65 Against: 377
  • Revoking Article to avoid no deal – For: 184 Against: 293
  • Labour’s Brexit plan – For: 237 Against: 307
  • Malthouse Plan B – For: 139 Against: 422

Brexiteer Mark Francois said “this attempt to seize the order paper” by MPs had failed and the public would be looking on “with amazement”.

Conservative MP Sir Oliver Letwin, who oversaw the unprecedented process of indicative votes, said the lack of a majority for any proposition was “disappointing”.

While he said he believed MPs should be allowed to have another go at reaching a consensus on Monday, he said this would not be needed if the PM’s deal was approved before then.

Independent Group MP Anna Soubry said more people had voted for the idea of another referendum than voted for Mrs May’s deal on the two times it had been put to Parliament.

And Labour MP Dame Margaret Beckett, who put forward the motion for a confirmatory referendum, said the objective had not been to identify a single proposition at this stage but to get a sense of where a compromise may lie by, in her words, “letting a thousand flowers bloom”.

Commons Speaker John Bercow said the process agreed by the House allowed for a second stage of debate on Monday and there was no reason this should not continue.

While it was up to MPs, he said there was an understanding Wednesday’s objective was to “shortlist” a number of options before moving on to consider the “most popular”.



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