Belfast Telegraph

Brexit stalemate: MPs once again fail to back alternative Brexit options

DUP MPs voted against all four options

MPs rejected all four alternative options.
MPs rejected all four alternative options.

MPs have voted against a number of alternative Brexit plans in the House of Commons.

Speaker John Bercow announced that all four alternative options put forward on Monday evening had been rejected by MPs.

A proposal from Europhile Tory grandee Kenneth Clarke for a customs union arrangement with the EU was rejected by only three votes, while a demand for a second referendum was defeated by 12 and a Norway-style deal put forward by Nick Boles by 21.

Mr Boles immediately declared that he would no longer sit as a Conservative MP, blaming the party for refusing to compromise on a means of leaving the European Union.

SNP MP Joanna Cherry’s proposal to give MPs the power to block a no-deal Brexit by voting to revoke Article 50 was rejected by a margin of 101 votes.

All ten DUP MPs voted against the four options.

It comes after MPs rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit withdrawal agreement for a third time on Friday.

Last week MPs rejected a number of similar options in the first set of indicative votes.

As it stands, the Government has until April 12 to come up with another Brexit plan or risk leaving with no-deal.

Mrs May is set to attend an emergency EU summit in Brussels on April 10.

Following Monday's voting European Parliament Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt, tweeted: "The House of Commons again votes against all options. A hard Brexit becomes nearly inevitable. On Wednesday, the U.K. has a last chance to break the deadlock or face the abyss."

Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay told the House of Commons that the default legal position is that the UK will leave the EU in 11 days' time and that to secure an extension Britain must provide a "credible" plan.

Mr Barclay told the Commons that "the only option is to find a way through which allows the UK to leave with a deal".

"This is now the second time the House has considered a wide variety of options for a way forward," he said

"It has once again failed to find a clear majority for any of the options. And yet the result of the House on Friday not to endorse the withdrawal agreement means that the default legal position is that the UK will leave the EU in just 11 days' time.

"To secure any further extension the Government will have to put forward a credible position to the EU on what we would do with the extra time."

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay speaking in the House of Commons. Photo credit: House of Commons/PA Wire
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay speaking in the House of Commons. Photo credit: House of Commons/PA Wire

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said it was "disappointing" that none of the options had won a majority, but said MPs should have a chance to consider them again on Wednesday.

"I remind the House the Prime Minister's unacceptable deal has been overwhelmingly rejected three times," he said.

"The margin of defeat for one of the options tonight was very narrow indeed and the Prime Minister's deal has been rejected by very large margins on three occasions.

"If it is good enough for the Prime Minister to have three chances at her deal, then I suggest that possible the house should have a chance to consider again the options we had before us today in a debate on Wednesday so the house can succeed where the Prime Minister has failed in presenting a credible economic relationship with Europe for the future that prevents us crashing out with no deal."

Mr Boles, a former minister, was applauded by some MPs after he dramatically quit the Conservative Party when his Brexit plan was defeated for a second time.

Raising a point of order, he told the Commons: "I have given everything to an attempt to find a compromise that can take this country out of the European Union while maintaining our economic strength and our political cohesion.

"I accept I have failed. I have failed chiefly because my party refuses to compromise.

"I regret therefore to announce I can no longer sit for this party."

One MP could be heard saying: "Oh Nick, don't go, come on."

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