Brexit: MPs defeat Theresa May’s deal by 149 votes
- 10 DUP MPs voted against Theresa May's deal
- Independent MP Lady Sylvia Hermon voted in favour of the deal
Prime Minister Theresa May has lost a crucial Commons vote on her amended Brexit Withdrawal Agreement with the EU by 149 votes, with just 17 days to go to the scheduled date of Brexit on March 29.
Mrs May's "improved deal", which she brought back from Strasbourg, was voted down after the Conservative leader failed to win the support of Brexiteers in her own party, opposition MPs and the DUP, who are currently propping up her minority government.
A total of 242 MPs voted in favour of the deal, with 391 against.
Following the definitive 230-vote majority by which her previous deal was rejected in January, Mrs May has now suffered two major Commons defeats for her Brexit strategy.
Following her fresh defeat, Mrs May told the House of Commons that she will grant a free vote to Conservative MPs in a vote on Wednesday on whether the UK should leave the EU without a deal on March 29.
If they reject no-deal as most Westminster observers expect, a third vote will follow on Thursday on authorising Mrs May to request an extension of the two-year Article 50 negotiation process.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the prime minister should now call a general election.
On Monday night, the Prime Minister flew to Strasbourg for last minute crunch talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in a bid to secure legally-binding changes to the controversial backstop.
The pair agreed a "joint instrument" setting out the legally-binding nature of their promises to seek alternative arrangements to avoid the need for a backstop, as well as "unilateral declaration by the UK" which sets out "sovereign action" by which Britain could seek to have the backstop removed if the EU acted in bad faith.
In a heated and dramatic day in the Commons on Tuesday Mrs May made a final appeal to MPs to save her deal, warning of the risk of no Brexit at all. But it soon became clear the changes were not enough to win the key votes of her detractors.
Earlier Attorney General Geoffrey Cox told MPs the changes "reduce the risk" the UK could be trapped indefinitely in the backstop, but do not remove it altogether, and the legal risk of the UK being unable to leave the backstop without EU agreement "remains unchanged".
Mrs May had told MPs passing the vote would allow the country to move on to a brighter future, while the alternative was uncertainty with no guarantee of what happens next.
Before the vote, a DUP spokesperson said "sufficient progress has not been achieved at this time", with the party's Westminster leader Nigel Dodds warning: "We know from the Irish government and from others what they see as the ultimate destination for Northern Ireland - the backstop is the bottom line."
Mr Corbyn had called on MPs to reject the deal and accused Mrs May of a plan to "recklessly run down the clock" before March 29.
The influential European Research Group said its legal advice was the agreement fell short of the Prime Minister's own tests.
Jean-Claude Juncker, however, has warned "there will be no third chance" to negotiate a new deal and that Article 50 could not be extending beyond May 23 unless the UK took part in European Parliament elections on that day.
Belfast Telegraph Digital