Politics update: May suffers defeat at the hands of Hardline Brexiteers, Corbyn set to visit Brussels next week

Theresa May

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May’s Brexit strategy defeated in the Commons

Politics update

Theresa May has suffered another defeat on Brexit, after MPs voted against motions setting out key points of her new Brexit strategy.

The prime minister failed to secure the votes needed to pass the motions on Thursday evening after members from the Jacob Rees-Mogg-led European Research Group (ERG) abstained from the vote.

The defeat suggests support from Eurosceptic MPs in the Conservative party for May’s deal has fallen through. MPs who voted against last night’s motions supported the PM’s motions last month believing she would win concessions on the backstop from the EU. However, this has not been achievable.

Hardline Brexiters are likely to use last night’s vote to strengthen the case for the ‘Malthouse compromise’, a plan created by Tory MPs which would see technology used to circumvent a hard border in Ireland.

The defeat at the hands of hardline Brexiteers in the Conservative party saw 303 votes against, and 258 in favour. Theresa May was not present for the defeat, leaving Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to respond to an empty dispatch box.

Reactions to May’s latest defeat

Corbyn calls on May to bring forward a ‘coherent Brexit plan’

May’s business minister: ERG members should join Nigel Farage’s party

In the wake of yesterday’s government defeat on Brexit, Richard Harrington, one of May’s business ministers, suggested that members of the European Research Group should join the planned party of former Ukip leader Nigel Farage.

“The prime minister has done a pretty good job of standing up to them up till now, but they were drinking champagne to celebrate her losing her deal and I regard that as being treachery,” he told the House magazine.

“I read that Nigel Farage is setting up a new party called ‘Brexit’ and if I were them I’d be looking at that, because that seems to reflect their views more than the Conservative party does. They should read carefully what that party’s got to offer, because in my view they’re not Conservatives.

“There are people who are very solid and stringent in their views and if I were they I would be looking at a party that seems designed for them – Nigel Farage’s party.”

Nick Boles: the vote should be a wake-up call

Nick Boles, a former government minister, said that Thursday evening’s vote showed that Theresa May cannot rely on the support of the European Research Group.

“Maybe, just maybe, the penny will now drop with prime minister and her chief whip that the hardliners in the ERG want a no-deal Brexit and will stop at nothing to get it,” he said. “Responsible MPs of all parties must come together on 27 and 28 March and stop them.”

Anna Soubry: we need a better way of doing politics

Conservative MP Anna Soubry, who supports a second referendum on Brexit, said on Thursday that whilst she was “delighted” that the government was to publish the consequences of a no-deal Brexit in the wake of the vote, there was still a “lack of leadership” on Brexit.

Speaking to the BBC, Soubry said: “What an absolute fiasco this is. It’s a lack of leadership in both of our broken parties, and frankly we need a different, better way of doing politics in this country, and we need it now.”

Corbyn to meet EU officials in Brussels

Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn is expected to meet the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier next week to discuss the future of Brexit, in the wake of the government’s latest defeat in the Commons.

The Labour leader’s meeting with Barnier and European Parliament Brexit chief Guy Verhofstadt comes after several EU officials have shown their support for Labour’s proposals for a soft Brexit.

Corbyn last visited Brussels in September, where he met with Barnier, as well as Commission official Martin Selmayr.

Barnier’s deputy Sabine Weyand said earlier this week that the Labour party’s Brexit plans deserve to be examined. Meanwhile, European Council president Donald Tusk reportedly expressed his support in a private meeting with Theresa May.

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