- Carl Court/Getty Images
- MPs will have a meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal following a rebellion by 11 Conservative MPs.
- It’s a major defeat for Theresa May’s government and means the prime minister must secure parliamentary approval before signing off a final Brexit deal.
- It came right down to the wire, with the amendment passing by just five votes.
- Jeremy Corbyn describes vote as “humiliating loss of authority” for PM May.
- Number 10 sacks party vice-chairman for rebelling against the government.
LONDON – MPs will have a meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal following a rebellion by backbench Conservative MPs on Wednesday evening, in what is a major defeat for Theresa May’s government.
An amendment was tabled to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill by Conservative MP Dominic Grieve which sought to give Parliament the power to either approve or vote down any Brexit deal reached between British and EU negotiators before exit day in March 2019.
The amendment, known as Amendment Seven, passed by just four votes – 309 to 305.
The UK government had already agreed to give MPs a final vote. However, this vote was not binding, and would not halt the Brexit process had MPs voted the deal down. There was also no guarantee that it would take place before exit day.
The amendment passed tonight means May will need to secure parliamentary approval before signing off any final Brexit deal.
Prior to the vote, Labour MP Liz Kendall called the vote the most important since Parliament voted to trigger Article 50, beginning the official process of leaving the European Union, according to The Guardian.
The vote came down to the wire, with Justice minister Dominic Raab making last-minute concessions on behalf of May’s government in an attempt to win over wavering Conservative rebels, but to no avail.
Here is the moment MPs realised the result of the vote:
This is the moment anopposition teller took his place on the outside of the dispatchbox, signalling the government had lost pic.twitter.com/FFJP1SdFir
— Esther Webber (@estwebber) December 13, 2017
“This defeat is a humiliating loss of authority for the Government on the eve of the European Council meeting,” Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said.
“Labour has made the case since the referendum for a meaningful vote in Parliament on the terms of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.
“Theresa May has resisted democratic accountability. Her refusal to listen means she will now have to accept Parliament taking back control.”
A spokesperson for 10 Downing Street said: “We are disappointed that Parliament has voted for this amendment despite the strong assurances that we have set out.”
They added the vote would “not prevent us from preparing our statute book for exit day.”
There were 11 Conservative rebels in total, including Grieve, plus former Cabinet ministers Ken Clarke, Anna Soubry, and Nicky Morgan.
Stephen Hammond, another Tory rebel, was sacked as the party’s vice chairman immediately after the vote.
Division within Tory Party over Brexit was laid bare as MPs from opposing wings of the party reacted to the vote.
Pro-Brexit Conservative MP Nadine Dorries called on all colleagues who rebelled against the government to be deselected and blocked from ever standing for the party again.
Tonight, the Tory rebels have put a spring in Labours step, given them a taste of winning, guaranteed the party a weekend of bad press, undermined the PM and devalued her impact in Brussels. They should be deselected and never allowed to stand as a Tory MP, ever again.
— Nadine Dorries (@NadineDorries) December 13, 2017
Labour Brexiteers Dennis Skinner, Ronnie Campbell and John Mann all supported Grieve’s amendment having sided with the government in past votes on Brexit legislation.
Just two Labour MPs, Kate Hoey and Frank Field, defied the party whip and voted with the government.
Labour MP Chuka Umunna, a leading voice of anti-hard Brexit group Open Britain, said MPs had “taken back control for the British people” through Wednesday night’s vote.
“For too long Ministers have been engaged in a deliberate attempt to silence dissenting voices and shut down democratic debate. They must now learn their lesson and start to treat Parliament – and the people we serve – with respect,” Umunna said.
“Tonight MPs have taken back control for the British people. We will scrutinise the Brexit process on behalf of our constituents, and we will not tolerate a Brexit that damages our economy or our great country.”
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said it was a “momentous day for Parliament and a humiliating defeat for Theresa May.”