PM MAY lost her latest high-stakes gamble in the House of Commons when her EU Withdrawal Bill was defeated by 344-286 MPs despite a number of leading Tory Brexiteers deciding to vote for her, along with a number of Labour MPs.
After the announcement of the result, Labour leader Corbyn called for a general election.
The DUP stood firmly against her from the start because of the backstop contained in the bill.
MPs were told by the Attorney General, who opened the debate, that they now had their ‘last opportunity’ to ensure the Brexit process is extended to 22 May and bring certainty to people and businesses.
MPs were asked to approve only part of the PM’s Brexit deal, the Withdrawal Agreement, covering the terms of exit.
The backstop proved to be one major concession too far for both the DUP and a group of Brexiteers.
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said that the European Council last week had agreed that Brexit could be delayed until 22 May – if the Withdrawal Agreement was approved by the end of this week.
If they did not, it offered a shorter delay until 12 April – the date by which the UK would have to indicate whether it would stand candidates in the 2019 European Parliament elections.
Labour’s Chris Bryant, speaking against, said the motion would bring ‘no certainty’ as it would not mean the overall deal was ratified: ‘If anything, today throws more uncertainty into the process.’
Conservative former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who has voted against the deal twice, tweeted that he would now vote for it – despite remaining ‘intensely critical’ of it.
Former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab confirmed he had also changed his mind and would back the Withdrawal Agreement.
Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick backed the deal, defied the party whip and voted for the withdrawal agreement.
‘I don’t want a no-deal. I’ve voted against it twice but this is a different proposition.’
Ex-Tory Heidi Allen, the new leader of Change UK (the name The Independent Group of mainly Labour MPs have applied to become a political party under) said that EU elections would be a substitute referendum.
If the deal did not pass, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, had warned the UK will face leaving the EU without a deal or a longer extension – involving taking part in European Parliament elections.