Theresa May suffers historic drubbing in UK Parliament Brexit vote
UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal has been overwhelmingly defeated in a House of Commons vote, by 432 votes to 202.
Photo Credit: Press Association
While the defeat itself came as no huge surprise, as May’s Brexit deal had been widely expected to be rejected, the scale of the trouncing will go down in history as the biggest UK parliamentary defeat in over 100 years.
In the final tally, 118 Conservative MPs voted against their own government, while 196 of their peers voted in favour. Also in favour were 3 Labour MPs and 3 independent MPs.
248 Labour MPs also voted against the deal, while the remainder of the naysayers came from the Scottish National Party (35); Liberal Democrats (11); Democratic Unionist Party (10); independent (5); Plaid Cymru (4) and Green Party (1).
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After the vote, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tabled a no confidence motion, which will be debated and voted on this evening.
If it is successful, there will be 14 days for a new government to be formed, or a general election will be scheduled.
TICK TOCK, MRS MAY…
Reaction from EU leaders ranged from disappointment to impatience and the overriding sentiment was that the ball is now firmly in the UK’s court and that a solution to the Brexit deadlock must be found soon.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he took note “with regret” of the outcome of the House of Commons vote but was unyielding over the idea that the Withdrawal Agreement could be altered in any way, calling the agreement “a fair compromise and the best possible deal.”
“The risk of a disorderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom has increased with this evening's vote. While we do not want this to happen, the European Commission will continue its contingency work to help ensure the EU is fully prepared ... Time is almost up" Jean-Claude Juncker
Juncker said that the Commission, most notably chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier, had invested “enormous time and effort” to negotiate the Withdrawal Agreement, having shown “creativity and flexibility throughout.”
“The risk of a disorderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom has increased with this evening's vote. While we do not want this to happen, the European Commission will continue its contingency work to help ensure the EU is fully prepared.”
Juncker concluded by urging the UK to clarify its intentions as soon as possible.
“Time is almost up,” he said.
EU Council President Donald Tusk kept his reaction to the vote short and sweet, saying, “If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?”
European Parliament President Antonio Tajani described the vote as “bad news,” adding “Our first thoughts are with the 3.6 million EU citizens living in UK and Britons living elsewhere in EU. They need assurances with regards to their future. We will always stand by their side.”
ARTICLE 50 EXTENSION, PEOPLE’S VOTE
Elsewhere, reactions focused on what should happen next, with an extension to Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and a second referendum “People’s Vote” in the spotlight.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that the “historic defeat” for Theresa May had been “obvious for months that it was coming.”
“Enough time has been wasted. It is time to stop the Article 50 clock and put this issue back to electorate. Scotland voted to remain in the EU and we should not be dragged out against our will,” she added.
European Green Party co-chair Reinhard Butikofer echoed Sturgeon’s sentiments, saying, “Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is right: ‘Enough time has been wasted. It is time to stop the Article 50 clock and put this issue back to the electorate.’
Greens group President Ska Keller said, “In this situation an extension to Article 50 needs to be considered with the aim of breaking the deadlock … A second referendum should be on the cards with the aim of finding a solution.”
“Enough time has been wasted. It is time to stop the Article 50 clock and put this issue back to the electorate. Scotland voted to remain in the EU and we should not be dragged out against our will" Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Meanwhile S&D group leader Udo Bullmann said, “If nothing works in Parliament, there is only one solution - ask the people again.”
However, MEP and member of Parliament’s Brexit steering group, Guy Verhofstadt, said that while the EU understands that the UK could need more time, it is “unthinkable” that Article 50 is prolonged beyond the European Elections in late May.
“What we will not let happen, deal or no deal, is that the mess in British politics is again imported into European politics,” he added.
ECR group MEP David Bannerman said, “My own take on this now is that the Government will attempt to renegotiate the deal and in order to do that will seek to extend Article 50 to Tuesday 2 July, which is the last day of the current European Parliament before elections. But don’t rule out No Deal.”
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