United Kingdom parliament inflicts fresh defeat on PM May over Brexit

Minnie Murray
January 11, 2019

Rebellious Conservative MPs teamed up with opposition party Labour on Wednesday to vote for a motion created to prevent the government delaying key decisions on Brexit.

The blow to the Prime Minister came less than a day after Conservative rebels defied the orders of their party to push through an amendment created to frustrate a no-deal Brexit.

"If we were, as a political class, not to deliver Brexit that would be a fundamental breach of trust between the people and the politicians and I think that would be something that we would regret for many, many generations", Hunt told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

'I realise there are a few of my colleagues who believe that if the government's deal is rejected we should simply do nothing and leave the European Union on March 29 with no deal at all and with all, to my mind, the calamitous consequences that would follow on from it, ' he told the BBC.

A potentially damaging no-deal exit is the default scenario if May's deal is rejected, with the UK's central bank warning that Britain's gross domestic product (GDP) could shrink by up to eight percent in such a scenario.

May insists Britain will leave the European Union in March whatever happens, but there is growing talk of delaying the two-year Article 50 exit process to give her some breathing space to get her deal agreed.

Rather than warming to Mrs May's deal since then, MPs have tried to wrest control of Brexit from the Government and put it in the hands of Parliament.

The Labour leader said he would "keep all options on the table" if a general election can't be secured, "but an election must be the priority".

Aiming to capitalise on her weakness, opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Thursday made a Brexit speech in Wakefield, northern England, in which he called for a general election to resolve the deadlock.

With time running out for the Prime Minister to shore up support for her controversial exit plan, Government sources told the Press Association that supporting an opposition bid to enshrine European Union standards was being considered.

Pro-EU Conservative lawmaker Dominic Grieve, who proposed the measure, said it was meant to speed up decisions, to help avoid a no-deal Brexit and "the calamitous consequences that would follow on from it".

Leading figures in the People's Vote campaign have said it will be up to Parliament to decide what the question is if there is another referendum.

Simon Usherwood, a reader in politics at the University of Surrey and deputy director of the United Kingdom in a Changing Europe group, told Al Jazeera that Wednesday's events demonstrated the "degree to which the government is not in control of the Commons".

"We are doing everything we can to win the meaningful vote that happens on Tuesday", the spokesman said.

"So I ran two surveys on Brexit".

Brexit-backing Tories accused Mr Bercow of flouting Commons procedures by allowing a vote on the proposal, tabled by former attorney general Dominic Grieve.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay, opening up the debate, laid out concessions being put forward by the government to address the issue of the backstop.

Critics of the backstop argue it could tie the United Kingdom into the EU's orbit indefinitely. She claimed that having listened to concerns from MPs, she would seek the necessary changes in order to get her Brexit plan through Parliament. "An extension would be a possibility because clearly there would have to be time to negotiate".

"The amendment doesn't affect the normal operations of the Treasury. but it does make it harder for the government to drift into no deal without parliament being able to direct it", Yvette Cooper, the MP who introduced the amendment, told the Guardian.

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