No progress in finding solution
MPs reject all Brexit options as May agrees to depart
Leaving: Mrs May is expected to step down
Britain’s future was thrown into further confusion and uncertainty after MPs’ rejected all eight proposed options intended to find a solution to the Brexit crisis.
As MPs took control of Commons business, the two narrowest votes saw calls for a customs union with the EU rejected by 272 to 264 votes, while a call for a referendum to endorse any deal was rejected by 295 to 268 votes.
Labour’s alternative plan for Brexit – including “close alignment” with the single market and protections for workers’ rights – was defeated by 307 votes to 237.
The other propositions – backing for a no-deal exit, the so-called Common Market 2.0 plan, a proposal to remain in the European Economic Area and a motion to stop the Brexit process by revoking Article 50 – failed to secure a majority.
Brexit Secretary Steven Barclay said the results strengthened the government’s view that their deal was the “the best option”. The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said the impasse meant the chances of Britain remaining in the EU had risen.
Oliver Letwin, the veteran Conservative MP who led the process which allowed backbenchers to seize control of the order paper to hold a series of indicative votes, said the results were “disappointing” but he hoped a new round of votes would be held on Monday. The Speaker, John Bercow, said he would allow this to take place.
The votes came after another dramatic day when Theresa May has told her party that she will leave Downing Street if MPs support her EU withdrawal deal.
The PM said she would not stay in power for the next phase of Brexit talks on the future trading relationship. She gave no departure date but could leave office in the summer.
“I have heard very clearly the mood of the parliamentary party,” she said. “I know there is a desire for a new approach – and new leadership – in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations and I won’t stand in the way of that.
“I know some people are worried that if you vote for the withdrawal agreement, I will take that as a mandate to rush on into phase two without the debate we need to have. I won’t; I hear what you are saying. But we need to get the deal through and deliver Brexit.
“I am prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended in order to do what is right for our country and our party.”
She earlier said she wants to bring the deal back to the Commons for a third time. Her announcement is seen as key to getting hard Brexiteers, including Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg, to back her deal.
It also fires a starting gun on a leadership campaign with Dominic Raab, Jeremy Hunt, David Lidington and Michael Gove among the likely frontrunners.
In Scotland the parliament has voted to revoke Article 50 and stop Brexit unless a second referendum is held.
Leave a light on
SNP Member of the European parliament Alyn Smith has urged the European Union to “leave a light on” for Scotland to find our way back to the EU if we are removed against our democratic will.
The intervention was warmly applauded across the Chamber and by Presidents Tusk and Juncker. Speaking in the debate on the European Council Conclusions, Alyn Smith said: “We see MPs today at Westminster finally trying to reach a settled view. Good…
“In the Scottish Parliament, we’re debating revoking Article 50 because from a Scottish perspective, every single party in Scotland except the Conservatives are united around the view that the best Brexit is no Brexit.
“Chers collègues, I’m not asking you to solve our domestic discussions. I am asking you to leave a light on so we can find our way home.”