Theresa May suffers defeat on Brexit motion after European Research Group abstain

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Theresa May has suffered another humiliating Commons defeat after MPs again voted down her latest Brexit plans.

On another dramatic day at Westminster, MPs voted by 303 to 258 against the motion endorsing the Government's approach.

The defeat came after the pro-Brexit Tory European Research Group announced they had taken a "collective decision" to abstain.

Furious members said supporting the motion would have amounted to an endorsement of efforts to rule out a no-deal Brexit.

The wording of the motion called on MPs to reiterate their support for the approach set out in an earlier set of votes on January 29.


'Strategy has failed'

On that occasion, the Commons voted for a Government-backed amendment calling on ministers to re-open negotiations with Brussels on the Northern Ireland backstop.

However it also voted for a non-binding cross-party amendment rejecting a no-deal break with the EU.

Following the vote, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mrs May needed to accept her strategy had failed and come forward with a plan that could bring people together to prevent the "catastrophe" of no-deal.

"The Government cannot keep on ignoring Parliament and ploughing on towards March 29 without a coherent plan," he said.

"She cannot keep on just running down the clock and hoping that something will turn up that will save her day and save her face."

Labour chair Ian Lavery branded the Conservative Party a "shabby shocking shambles".

However, Conservative Party deputy chairman James Cleverly sought to play down the significance of the vote.

"What we learned from the vote this evening is not very much. The more significant vote was the vote we had last month," he told BBC News.

"The Prime Minister, I know, will continue to negotiate with the EU to try and get some changes that can get through the House so we can leave on March 29 in good order."