Brexit briefing: MPs vote to take control of Brexit process

Theresa May

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Theresa May's Brexit strategy is in disarray after MPs voted to wrest control of the process from the hands of ministers.

Last night, an amendment passed by a majority of 27, meaning MPs can potentially dictate the business of the Commons in the coming days.

Pro-EU ministers Richard Harrington, Alistair Burt and Steve Brine all quit the government in order to support the amendment, with 392 voting in favour of it, and 302 against.

They will now be able to stage a series of "indicative votes" on alternatives to the Prime Minister's controversial Brexit deal.

However, in a statement to MPs earlier in the day, Ms May said she would not feel bound by the results of any indicative votes, which could include a so-called 'soft Brexit' in the form of a Norway-style deal, a second referendum or revoking the Article 50 withdrawal process altogether.

The government warned the Monday night vote had set a "dangerous, unpredictable precedent" and said it was essential that any options put forward by MPs were actually "deliverable".

"This amendment instead upends the balance between our democratic institutions and sets a dangerous, unpredictable precedent for the future," a spokesman for the Department for Exiting the EU said.

"While it is now up to Parliament to set out next steps in respect of this amendment, the government will continue to call for realism - any options considered must be deliverable in negotiations with the EU."

At the weekly meeting of the Cabinet at Downing Street today, ministers will consider their response.

Last week, the EU set a deadline of Friday for the PM to secure support for her withdrawal agreement if the UK wishes to leave on May 22.

If it does not get through the Commons, the UK has until April 12 to propose a different approach or leave without a deal.


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