PM humiliated a second time
Business leaders angry as May’s deal rejected again
A dejected looking Theresa May after the latest vote
Business groups responded with dismay after MPs rejected Theresa May’s revised Brexit agreement by another wide margin.
MPs voted against the Prime Minister’s EU withdrawal deal by 391 to 242. The majority of 149 was not so overwhelming as the 230 margin in the first vote last month, indicating that almost 100 MPs were persuaded to switch their position and back her deal.
Even so, it was another clear slap in the face for the Prime Minister and made a “disorderly exit” from Europe more probable. MPs will vote on a No Deal Brexit tomorrow. EU leaders reacted with frustration to the result in Westminster.
Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, pictured, said: “Businesses have warned time and again that the United Kingdom is not ready to face the consequences of a messy and disorderly exit from the European Union.
Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said: “Enough is enough. This must be the last day of failed politics. A new approach is needed by all parties. Jobs and livelihoods depend on it.
“Extending Article 50 to close the door on a March no-deal is now urgent. It should be as short as realistically possible and backed by a clear plan.
“Conservatives must consign their red lines to history, while Labour must come to the table with a genuine commitment to solutions. It’s time for Parliament to stop this circus.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “It is the public who will feel the impact of a no deal Brexit – tariffs, non-tariff barriers and currency depreciation will all push up costs and reduce the choice on the shelves we currently enjoy.
“Businesses are exasperated by the lack of clarity over their future trading arrangements. Hundreds of ships are currently sailing towards Britain without a clear understanding of the tariffs, checks, or documentation requirements, they will face when they arrive. Politicians must swallow their pride and find an agreement that can command the support of the House.”
Food and Drink Federation chief executive Ian Wright said: “Tonight’s result is another body blow for the country and the UK’s largest manufacturing sector. As we teeter on the brink of the cliff edge, just seventeen days’ away, confidence in our political leaders is almost gone.”
David Lamb, Head of Dealing at the forex firm Fexco Corporate Payments, said:“While it’s still unclear if this is the final throw of the Prime Minister’s dice, her deal is now dead. Yet for all the political drama, the net result is to catapult the Brexit process back to where it was a fortnight ago.
“The markets have drawn two stark conclusions; the Prime Minister remains a lame duck and on Thursday MPs will have no choice but to send her cap in hand to Brussels to ask for a delay to Brexit.”
Shadow Scotland Secretary Lesley Laird said:“After weeks of running down the clock, Theresa May’s dreadful deal has been defeated again in the Commons.
“This is a Prime Minister, in office but not in power, who drew needless red lines to appease hardline Brexiteers instead of reaching out in common sense to find common ground.”
The SNP said Parliament must now move swiftly to rule out a No-Deal Brexit, and extend Article 50 long enough to put the decision back to the people in a second EU referendum.
Westminster leader Ian Blackford said the Prime Minister must starting acting in the interests of the four nations of the UK, and not just her own party – by whipping her MPs to rule out No-Deal and extend Article 50.
Scotland for a People’s Vote – which is campaigning for a UK-wide referendum with the option to remain in the EU – welcomed the defeat of the Government. Kerry Buist, Director of Scotland for a People’s Vote, said: “There is only one way forward – to hand the final decision back to the public through a People’s Vote.”