Plea for clarity for Portsmouth’s port and businesses as 321 MPs vote to reject no-deal Brexit

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WHAT the city’s port and businesses desperately need is clarity.

That is the message from Penny Mordaunt and Hampshire Chamber of Commerce’s Brexit spokesman after 321 MPs voted in favour of rejecting a no-deal exit from the EU in any circumstance. 

International Development Secretary and Portsmouth North MP, Penny Mordaunt, leaving the Houses of Parliament after MPs rejected a no-deal Brexit under any circumstances. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

International Development Secretary and Portsmouth North MP, Penny Mordaunt, leaving the Houses of Parliament after MPs rejected a no-deal Brexit under any circumstances. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

The amended motion tonight secured a majority of 43 and now forces prime minister Theresa May and her government to consider an extension of Article 50.

MPs are expected to vote on the law tomorrow – which is the UK’s withdrawal bill from the EU, triggered almost two years ago –  and could potentially delay Brexit past March 29. 

Portsmouth North Conservative MP Penny Mordaunt said while a no-deal is ‘not the outcome she wants’, it would dispel the uncertainty local firms currently have over Brexit. 

She was among those who voted to keep the scenario on the table tonight. 

‘Business and the port want certainty – the Commons needs to decide what it wants and give them that certainty,’ she said. 

‘In practical terms the only way no deal can be stopped is by revoking Article 50 or agreeing a deal. Parliament has to wake up to that fact. 

‘We must deliver Brexit in an orderly way and I continue to vote and fight to do so.’ 

Tonight’s vote came after it was revealed the daily cost of diverting lorries bound for Portsmouth’s port in the event of a no-deal Brexit would be £30,000. 

But with politicians now poised to debate delaying Brexit altogether – let alone a no-deal – business bosses say there is little new information they have gleamed on what the future holds. 

Mark Baulch, Hampshire Chamber of Commerce’s Brexit spokesman and head of policy and representation, said: ‘Our question as a business organisation is how long is the delay for and what is its purpose?

‘We cannot continue to negotiate and make plans with no objective.

‘We want clarity as soon as we can get it so businesses can understand how they can continue to trade as successfully as they always have done.’ 

Havant Conservative MP Alan Mak also backed a no-deal scenario tonight. 

He said: ‘I voted in favour of allowing the UK to leave the EU without a deal in an orderly way because I didn’t believe that taking no deal off the table was currently the right step.’ 

Labour MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said a no-deal would be ‘disastrous for Portsmouth’ and is campaigning for a second public referendum over Brexit. 

On tonight's events he said: ‘The government saw the fourth-biggest defeat in our country’s history.

‘After that resounding defeat, the prime minister must now accept her deal is dead otherwise her government will continue to bring uncertainty and damage to the country.’ 

He added: ‘Extending Article 50 demonstrates the failure of this government – the PM has recklessly run down the clock on Brexit.

‘With less than three weeks left before March 29, an extension is now inevitable.’ 

More than 390 MPs voted against Theresa May’s Brexit deal last night, prompting a mixed reaction from our region’s MPs. 

The News approached Fareham MP Suella Braverman and Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage for reaction to tonight’s events but is yet to  receive a response.