TORY PM Theresa May attended a summit in Brussels yesterday, hours after 11 Tory rebels and almost the entire Labour Party and all the Liberals and Scottish Nationalists voted in the House of Commons to defeat the government on a key Brexit vote by 309-305.
With the notable exception of Frank Field and Kate Hoey, Labour backed an amendment giving MPs a ‘legal guarantee’ of a vote on the final Brexit deal struck with the EU. Labour Brexit supporters Dennis Skinner and Ronnie Campbell chose to vote with the anti-Brexit coalition.
One Tory rebel, Stephen Hammond, was sacked by the Prime Minister as a party vice chairman in the aftermath of the vote. After the result was announced, former Tory cabinet minister Nicky Morgan, tweeted: ‘Tonight Parliament took control of the EU withdrawal process.’
The Tory self-styled ‘rebel alliance’ indicated that they are poised to also vote against May in the crucial vote next week which sets into law the Brexit date for 11pm on 29th March 2019. If she is defeated in this vote there will be no definite date to leave the EU, in other words, negotiations can continue indefinitely with delay after delay until Brexit is well and truly scuppered.
May’s loss on Wednesday night gives Parliament the power to vote down the final Brexit deal agreed with the EU – and to remain in the EU. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the defeat was a ‘humiliating loss of authority’ for the Prime Minister but did not call for a general election, or for May to be sacked.
The Tory rebels were Dominic Grieve, Heidi Allen, Ken Clarke, Jonathan Djanogly, Stephen Hammond, Sir Oliver Heald, Nicky Morgan, Bob Neill, Antoinette Sandbach, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston. Another Conservative MP, John Stevenson, abstained.
Labour shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer described next week’s vote on the final leaving date as the next ‘accident waiting to happen’, telling Tory Brexit secretary David Davis: ‘Rather than repeat last night’s debacle, will the government now commit to dropping that ill-conceived gimmick?’
Davis responded: ‘Unlike him, I do not view votes of this House of Commons as accidents.
‘They are decisions taken by the House, and that decision we respect, as we will the next one.’