Theresa May suffers 149-vote defeat as MPs reject Brexit deal for second time | Politics News
Theresa May has seen MPs reject her Brexit deal for a second time to prompt further instability at Westminster and uncertainty over the UK’s departure from the EU.
The prime minister saw 391 MPs vote against her withdrawal agreement on Tuesday night, with 242 voting in favour.
This delivered a defeat by 149 votes for Mrs May’s deal.
In January, the prime minister had suffered a massive 230-vote defeat over her Brexit deal.
MPs spurned her withdrawal agreement for the second time despite the prime minister securing what, she claimed, were legally-binding changes to her deal.
A last-ditch visit to Strasbourg to meet EU officials on Monday night saw Mrs May return with further assurances on the Irish border backstop, which forms a significant part of opposition to her deal.
The backstop is designed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland should talks on a future EU-UK trade relationship break down.
Many Brexit-supporting MPs fear it could permanently leave the UK in an effective customs union with the EU.
Tuesday night’s crunch Commons vote was held after Attorney General Geoffrey Cox admitted, despite the prime minister’s efforts to alter her Brexit deal, the legal risk of the UK having no ability to unilaterally exit the backstop was “unchanged”.
However, in fresh legal advice, Mr Cox did conclude Mrs May’s extraction of extra reassurances from the EU that the UK would not be trapped indefinitely in the backstop had been able to “reduce the risk” of such an outcome.
The inability of the attorney general to substantially alter his legal advice on the withdrawal agreement prompted the DUP to confirm they would not support the prime minister’s Brexit deal.
The Northern Ireland party, who prop up Mrs May’s government at Westminster, said “sufficient progress has not been achieved” in altering the withdrawal agreement.
The European Research Group (ERG) of Conservative eurosceptics had formed their own “Star Chamber” of lawyers from among their number to rule on the prime minister’s added assurances on her withdrawal agreement.
They also concluded Mrs May had not done enough to secure their support.
Other prominent Brexiteers also stood firm in their opposition to the prime minister’s Brexit deal.
Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who spearheaded the Vote Leave campaign ahead of the 2016 EU referendum, told MPs that Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement had “reached the end of the road”.
Labour also maintained their opposition to the prime minister’s deal, with Jeremy Corbyn telling MPs: “After three months of running down the clock the prime minister has, despite very extensive delays, achieved not a single change to the withdrawal agreement.
“Not one single word has changed. In terms of the substance, literally, nothing has changed.”