British PM Theresa May loses key vote on Brexit procedure in parliament

Gwen Vasquez
January 10, 2019

"I don't think the British public are served by fantasies about magical, alternative deals that are somehow going to spring out of a cupboard in Brussels", Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington said in an interview with BBC radio.

The setback for the Prime Minister came as MPs started five days of debate on the withdrawal agreement with the European Union, and the framework for future relations, ahead of the meaningful vote next week.

On Wednesday, the House of Commons voted to prevent the government delaying key decisions as Brexit approaches.

Responding to the vote, Brexit minister Stephen Barclay told parliament it was the government's intention to act quickly if it lost Tuesday's vote. However, that could be less likely with the government's defeat on Tuesday.

"We are talking about 79 days until potentially crashing out of Europe without a deal - should our focus not be on the detail and the arguments about the process in this place, but getting on with a plan B if Parliament decides the government's plan is not the one for the people?"

It comes as J.P. Morgan Asset Management suggests that British sterling will rise by at least 4 percent if MPs approve the PM's Brexit deal, Reuters reports.

Around 20 Tory MPs defied the government and backed the two motions this week and at least 40 hard-Brexit Tories have vowed to vote against the deal on Tuesday.

Although the movement in the pair is largely driven by the dollar so far, the bigger risk factor at play will be the meaningful vote on May's Brexit deal next week.

He said: "What is important now is to say that we should not take any stances which could damage or endanger any chance of putting the deal on and having it passed through the House of Commons and working in a way to put it back on track on what was supposed to be the timetable for the 29th of March".

Later, the former Tory minister Crispin Blunt said many MPs had come to the conclusion the "referee is no longer neutral" and urged Mr Bercow to "reflect" on his position.

Mrs May retorted: "The only way to avoid no-deal is to vote for the deal".

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But without the DUP's support, and with many of May's Conservative MP still strongly opposed, the deal can not pass.

Alongside the Remain-backing former attorney general in the Aye lobby were former ministers Nick Boles, Kenneth Clarke, Jonathan Djanogly, Justine Greening, Sam Gyimah, Jo Johnson, Phillip Lee, Sir Oliver Letwin, Nicky Morgan, Bob Neill, Anna Soubry and Ed Vaizey as well as Heidi Allen, Antoinette Sandbach and Sarah Wollaston and Brexit-backing Andrew Mitchell.

A majority of members of Parliament oppose a no-deal Brexit, but it remains the default option if May's deal is rejected.

"I would suggest to some of my honourable friends - the ones that are getting somewhat overexcited - that perhaps they should don a yellow jacket and go outside", he said.

He added: "I don't think that's what parliamentarians want".

That's an option many of Mr Corbyn's rank-and-file lawmakers are already calling for, alongside other opposition parties.

"I just invite you to reflect on the conclusion that many of us will have inevitably have come to".

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, said that "not one single dot or comma has changed" since December's aborted vote.

Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom challenged Bercow to publish any advice he had received from his clerks - prompting an eruption from Labour MPs who pointed out the government's own attempts to keep the legal advice it had received on Brexit private.

"The only way we can move forward if the Government's deal is not acceptable to Parliament is for Parliament to engage with Government and find a solution, which is what I am trying to do".

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