Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement to the House of Commons after warning MPs that rejecting her Brexit deal it would lead to “paralysis” that could see Britain stay in the bloc.
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement to the House of Commons after warning MPs that rejecting her Brexit deal it would lead to “paralysis” that could see Britain stay in the bloc.

UK in chaos as MPs reject May’s Brexit deal

BRITAINhas been plunged into a full political crisis, with the House of Commons voting down Theresa May's Brexit plans by a crushing 230 votes and triggering a vote of no-confidence.

The parliament voted 432-202 to reject Mrs May's Withdrawal Agreement, which was to spell out how the UK would leave the EU on March 29.

The UK now has to find a new way forward with just 73 days to go until all agreements with the EU expire.

 

The defeat - the worst ever by a British prime minister - was even worse than Number 10 had feared and indicates up to 100 Tories voted against their own government's bill.

Mrs May immediately got to her feet and challenged Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to move a motion of no-confidence against her.

"We need to confirm whether this Government still enjoys the confidence of the House,'' she said.

MORE: What happens now? A five minute guide to Brexit

"I can confirm that if the official opposition table it (a motion of no-confidence) this evening … the Government will make time to debate it tomorrow.''

Mr Corbyn responded by saying he had tabled the motion.

"I am pleased that motion will be debated tomorrow so this House can give its verdict on the sheer incompetence of this Government and pass that motion of no confidence.''

In extraordinary scenes in the historic Palaces of Westminster, the House of Commons categorically rejected Mrs May's deal, which would have kept the UK closely tied to the EU but allowed Britain to negotiate their own trade deals, and avoided a physical border between Ireland the Northern Ireland.

 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks after Theresa May lost a vote on her Brexit deal in the House of Commons. Picture: AP
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks after Theresa May lost a vote on her Brexit deal in the House of Commons. Picture: AP

 

The PM said while it showed the House did not support her bill, it didn't show how the UK would manage its divorce from the EU.

She said if the House confirmed it had confidence in her Government tomorrow, she would attempt to break the deadlock by meeting with Government colleagues, minority government partners the DUP and MPs from other parties to try to agree a deal.

She would then take it back to Brussels for a final renegotiation.

There have only been three occasions in the past 100 years when British prime ministers faced defeats of more than 100 votes, all under a Labour minority government in the 1920s.

Mrs May has already lost majority government and survived an attempted leadership coup which saw 117 of her colleagues vote against her.

She told Cabinet overnight she hoped to push on with Brexit no matter what the outcome of the vote saying it's "the only option".

Earlier, Mr Corbyn told the EU that if parliament votes down the deal then reopening negotiations "should not, and cannot, be ruled out".

He had urged the 650-member House of Commons to vote the bill down, and take the UK to another election.

 

British lawmakers begin voting on whether to approve or reject the divorce agreement between the government and the European Union. Picture: AP
British lawmakers begin voting on whether to approve or reject the divorce agreement between the government and the European Union. Picture: AP

 

Parliamentarians are furiously working up other options, ranging from a bespoke trade deal, to no deal at all, to cancelling Brexit altogether.

A snap election or even a second referendum are also options being considered, with the divisive debate uniting unlikely allies across party lines as MPs line up on the Brexiteer or Remainer sides.

Mrs May had made a last-minute speech warning Brexiteers that if they blocked her deal, there was a chance Remainer MPs would win any subsequent battle, potentially meaning no Brexit at all.

Mrs May had urged the House to support her deal, saying MPs had a responsibility to deliver on the democratic will of the people, who voted at the 2016 referendum to leave the EU.

"The responsibility on each and every one if us at this moment is profound,'' she said at the time.

The Environment Minister Michael Gove had earlier warned MPs against holding out for the perfect deal, likening obstructionists to "mid-50s swingers'' waiting for attractive Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson to show up to a party.

Mrs May echoed this sentiment in a speech in the strongly Leave-voting area of Stoke-on-Trent, albeit it much less colourful language.

"Nobody has yet come up with an alternative Brexit deal that is negotiable and that delivers on the result of the referendum,'' she said.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove likened  obstructionists to “mid-50s swingers’’ waiting for Scarlett Johansson to show up to a party.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove likened obstructionists to “mid-50s swingers’’ waiting for Scarlett Johansson to show up to a party.

The scale of the political upheaval was reflected in a new YouGov poll taken for the Times, which showed despite the chaos of Mrs May's Government, Labour had fallen six points behind in the latest opinion poll.

The poll showed Jeremy Corbyn had failed to capitalise on the political upheaval in the government, including a bid to topple Mrs May from the prime ministership, and Labour support had fallen to 35 per cent, while the Conservatives were sitting at 41 per cent.



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