Politics update: Commons takes control of Brexit, as Tory MPs resign from government to support Letwin amendment

Politics update 26.03.2019 Indicative Votes

MPs back indicative votes amendment to seize control of Brexit

Theresa May Brexit deal

MPs voted to take back control of the Brexit process on Monday evening, when they voted in favour of holding a series of indicative votes on alternatives to Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

An amendment tabled by former Tory minister Oliver Letwin, which calls for Commons business on Wednesday to be set aside for a series of indicative votes, passed by 329 votes to 302.

The prime minister has declined to say whether she will support or reject the outcomes of the indicative votes, however on Monday she suggested her objection to a customs union or Norway-style Brexit, saying she was “sceptical about the process” of alternatives being voted on.

A government statement issued after the passing of the amendment said that it: “upends the balance between our democratic institutions and sets a dangerous, unpredictable precedent for the future”.

Three ministers resign from government to back Letwin amendment

Richard Harrington Business Minister
Business Minister Richard Harrington

Three Conservative MPs resigned from the government on Monday in order to vote for the Letwin amendment, which says MPs should hold a series of indicative votes to decide alternatives to Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

The foreign affairs minister, Alistair Burt, the health minister Steve Brine and the business minister Richard Harrington all resigned on Monday night to vote for the amendment.

A total of 29 Tory MPs rebelled against the party in order to vote for the amendment. Labour had whipped its MPs to support the motion, whilst the government opposed it.

May admits Brexit deal does not have Commons support

Theresa May has conceded that her Brexit deal is unlikely to have enough support to be approved in the House of Commons, suggesting she may not hold another meaningful vote.

The prime minister asked MPs not to subject Britain to a “slow Brexit”, as they prepared to hold a vote to decide whether to hold a series of indicative votes to pave an alternative way forward for the Brexit process.

“I have had to conclude that as things stand, there is still not sufficient support in the house to bring back the deal for a third meaningful vote,” May said on Monday.

The prime minister also seemed to try and assure MPs who remain fearful of a no-deal Brexit, saying: “Unless this house agrees to it, no deal will not happen.”

However, May criticised other alternatives to her deal which have been talked about in recent weeks, saying she was “sceptical about the process” of alternatives being tabled, stressing that a Norway-style deal was a “slow Brexit”.

DUP rejects May’s deal once again

Theresa May and Arlene Foster

The Democratic Unionist party leader, Arlene Foster, has rejected a personal plea from Theresa May to support her Brexit deal.

The prime minister had hoped she could force her deal through parliament in a last-minute meaningful vote, which would need the support of the DUP.

However, in a telephone call Foster told May that her party would not be changing their stance on her deal. “The position remains unchanged,” a DUP source later said.

Later, Nigel Dodds, the DUP’s leader in Westminster, criticised the prime minister’s “fundamental lack of preparation” for Brexit. The DUP has long cited the controversial Irish border backstop arrangement as reason for not supporting May’s deal.

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