In a historic night in which MPs tabled motions on Brexit, they voted for an amendment jointly tabled by a Conservative and a Labour MP to prevent a no deal Brexit.
Dame Caroline Spelman (Conservative) and Jack Dromey’s (Labour) amendment was non-binding but was won by 318 to 310.
The amendment was to prevent a “no-deal” Brexit with a motion that Parliament “rejects the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship”.
MPs also voted for Conservative MP Sir Graham Brady’s amendment to support Theresa May’s deal without a backstop. – An unlikely eventuality as the EU have ruled out renegotiating the withdrawal deal or removing the backstop that ensures Ireland is not split by a border.
Donald Tusk reacted warning that the backstop was an integral part of the withdrawal agreement and that “the withdrawal agreement is not open for renegotiation.
But it’s a significant move as for the first time the Commons voted for a deal they would support.
A close majority of 317 to 301 of MP’s supported his motion for Parliament to require the backstop to be replaced with “alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border” but to support the prime minister’s deal.
Theresa May had ordered Conservative MPs to vote for this amendment.
“It is now clear that there is a route that can command a sustainable majority,” said Theresa May after the vote.
Though the PM admitted that “there is limited appetite for this” in the EU.
The PM conceded that there was a majority against a no deal Brexit, though she warned: “I agree that we should not leave without a deal, however simply opposing a no deal is not enough to stop it.”
Jeremy Corbyn accepted the Prime Minister’s offer to meet and discuss a way forward, since “the House has emphatically voted to reject the no deal option.”
The SNP’s Ian Blackford was scathing at the vote to tear up the backstop to ensure that Ireland would not be split by a hard border. “Tonight the Conservative Party has ripped up the Good Friday agreement – a treaty that has delivered peace to Northern Ireland,“ said the SNP MP. He added that “this house should be ashamed of itself.”
MPs earlier voted against Labour MP Yvette Cooper’s amendment which attempted to stop the possibility of a no deal Brexit happening.
The motion was voted against by 298 to 321 votes.
The Labour MP’s amendment had the support of the Labour leadership and some Conservative MPs as it tried to stop the UK crashing out of the EU in an eventuality that the majority of MPs are convinced would be incredibly damaging for the UK economy by giving Parliament time to pass a new EU Withdrawal Bill.
The measure sought to postpone Brexit day – currently 29 March – to 31 December, if MPs do not approve her deal by 26 February.
It required Theresa May to ask the EU to agree to extend the two-year limit on Article 50.
It had support across the benches, though Corbyn said he backed limiting any extension to a “short window” of three months toallow time for renegotiation.
MPs tonight voted against the Labour Party’s official amendment to the EU withdrawal by 296 to 327.
Jeremy Corbyn’s motion instructed the government to rule out a “disastrous No Deal” scenario – an eventuality only supported by some extreme Brexiteers as medical supplies, food, other goods could go scarce with inevitable chaos at ports and the disruptions of trade barriers that would be costly for jobs too.
Corbyn’s amendment would have allowed Parliament to consider- and vote on – options including the UK being part of a permanent customs union with Brussels and a version of the EU’s single market.
It would have also called for legislating to hold a public vote on either a deal or a proposition that has MPs’ support.
It always struggled to win backbench Tory support and the vote is a blow to the People’s Vote campaign.
The Labour Leader’s motion was the only motion tabled that called for parliament to discuss the UK staying in a customs union with the EU or a second referendum.
MPs also voted down a similar amendment by the SNP’s Ian Blackford overwhelmingly.
The SNP’s leader’s motion was voted down by 35 to 327 MPs. It called for an extension of Article 50, ruled out a no deal Brexit and emphasised the role of the UK nations in the Brexit process.
He later said that the government had “shafted” the other UK nations.
MPs also voted down Dominic Grieve’s amendment by 301 to 321
Grieve’s amendment was to bring control of the Brexit process back to parliament with indicative votes.
In another close vote the Labour MP Rachel Reeve’s non-binding motion for Theresa May to ask the EU to postpone Brexit day was defeated by 290 to 322.