In a dramatic development a fortnight before Britain is due to leave the EU, MPs voted for an amendment to take the economic chaos of a no deal Brexit off the table for good.
There were gasps as MPs delivered Theresa May another shocking defeat.
The vote was won by a narrow 312 to 308 in a major upset.
This is an amendment going further than the government’s motion as it takes no deal off the table FOR EVER.
The vote does not change the law but expresses their will. Yet this is a major humiliation for Brexiteers too and makes an extension of Article 50 likelier.
The vote was an amendment to the government’s motion which was to rule out leaving the EU with no deal only on March 29.
Yesterday MPs rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal for a second time by a huge majority of 149.
Theresa May will be devastated by the loss of tonight’s vote too – for which Tory MPs were whipped.
Conservative MP Caroline Spelman proposed the amendment which rejects a no-deal Brexit at any time and under any circumstances, which would take the threat of a no deal Brexit off the table for good.
Ironically she then told parliament that she no longer was backing it and asked to withdraw it.
But in dramatic scenes she was told that she would not be able to withdraw her amendment.
Spelman said she appreciated the “offers of support from other parties” but that Prime Minister Theresa May’s motion offered a greater opportunity to get a “really large majority.”
However John Bercow, the speaker of the House of Commons, quickly intervened and said she could not simply withdraw it.
“If she puts forward an amendment then chooses not to move it, that’s for her judgment and people will make their own assessment of that,” Bercow said, adding: “It’s perfectly possible for other signatories to (the amendment) who do stick with the wish to persist with it, to do so.
Today the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Spring Statement set out the severe consequences to teh economy of a no deal Brexit and called for compromise over “a Brexit Deal” – suggesting there could be discussion cross-party for a compromise on a softer Brexit than the Prime Minister’s deal.
A vote on delaying Brexit could happen on Thursday in the third episode of a dramatic week in the Commons.
In a further humiliation for Brexiteers, the amemdment for the so-called Malthouse Compromise was brutally defeated 164 to 374.
There was pressure from many Conservatives keen to unite the party behind what Conservatives term The Malthouse Compromise – a stepped transition to no-deal Brexit, another amendment voted on tonight. The plan was unlikely to be accepted by the EU which has made clear that it considers negotiations over.
Sabine Weyand the EU’s Deputy Negotiator said MPs behind it were “divorced from reality” as the options had been ruled out.
The government’s motion to rule out leaving the EU with a no deal Brexit at the end of the month was also won 321 to 278.
A hoarse Prime Minister said: “These the legal default in UK and Eu law is taht the UK will leave the EU without a deal unless something else is agreed. The onus is now on everybody in this House to find out what that is.”
Theresa May said the UK could seek to negotiate a different deal, though the EU has said that is not an option. Other options were her deal or no Brexit happening at all, she added.
She said if MPs vote for a delay, “a short technical extension to Article 50 would be sought” if we have a deal. A longer extension, she warned would require the UK to hold European Parliament elections in May.
Jeremy Corbyn said he would meet MPs across the House of Commons for a “consensus for a way forward,” whether that would be a permanent custom union, peoples vote or a Norway type option.
Earlier today, the government suffered two defeats in the House of Lords on the trade bill.
Peers voted by 285 to 184, a majority of 101, in favour of a cross-party amendment to ensure the continuation of frictionless trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic and blocking the imposition of customs arrangements or other checks and controls after Brexit day.
And in the second vote, peers voted by 254 to 187, a majority of 67, for a cross-party move to demand that a future trade deal with the EU would include measures that enable “all UK and EU citizens to exercise the same reciprocal rights to work, live and study for the purpose of the provision of trade in goods or services”.