Prime Minister’s Brexit withdrawal agreement voted down 344 to 286 by MPs

THERESA May’s Brexit withdrawal agreement has been defeated in Parliament.

Friday, 29th March 2019, 3:00 pm
Updated Friday, 29th March 2019, 3:01 pm
Prime Minister Theresa May speaks in the House of Commons during a Brexit debate. Picture: House of Commons/PA Wire

The Prime Minister offered to stand down as leader of the Conservative Party earlier this week if MPs backed her deal. 

However this offer was not enough with rebel MPs from her own party as well as politicians from across the House of Commons voting against the withdrawal agreement. 

Mrs May said it was the ‘last opportunity to guarantee Brexit’. 

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Prime Minister Theresa May speaks in the House of Commons during a Brexit debate. Picture: House of Commons/PA Wire

She lost the vote by 344 to 286 this afternoon on the day that was originally supposed to be the day the UK left the European Union. 

Former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab was among the Conservative MPs to switch and back her deal including Boris Johnson. 

In an apparent bid to woo wavering Labour MPs, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox told the Commons that the Government would have backed an amendment from the party's Gareth Snell.

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The Stoke Central MP's amendment, giving Parliament the right to set the negotiating mandate for talks on future relations with the EU, was not selected for debate by Speaker John Bercow.

In a special Friday sitting of the Commons, MPs were debating the legally binding treaty segment of the Prime Minister's Brexit deal, but not the accompanying Political Declaration setting out plans for the future EU/UK relationship.

The PM's decision to split the two parts of the package means it does not qualify as a third attempt to pass a ‘meaningful vote’ on the Government's Brexit deal.

Under the terms of an agreement with Brussels, a positive vote would have qualify the UK for an automatic delay to May 22 of the formal date of Brexit.

This defeat gives the UK two weeks until April 12 to ask Brussels for a further extension to Brexit negotiations - which would require it to take part in May's elections to the European Parliament - or leave the EU without a deal.

European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas confirmed that the agreement on its own was ‘necessary and sufficient’ to deliver an orderly Brexit.

But he told a Brussels press conference that the deal must also be ratified by Parliament, something which Brexit legislation makes clear can only happen after the Political Declaration has been approved by MPs.