The Government has been defeated today in the House of Commons over arrangements should there be no Brexit deal. The vote is a set-back for Theresa May, the Prime Minister, who said that if her withdrawal agreement is voted down then there will be no Brexit deal. MPs backed a motion which would limit some of the Government’s financial options in the event of a no deal, with 303 in support and 296 against.
Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, said after the vote:
“This vote is an important step to prevent a no-deal Brexit. It shows that there is no majority in parliament, the cabinet or the country for crashing out of the EU without an agreement. That is why we are taking every opportunity possible in parliament to prevent no deal”.
During the debate today in the House of Commons, Sir Oliver Letwin, the Conservative MP for West Dorset said:
“My right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Sussex (Sir Nicholas Soames), who is sitting next to me, and I have calculated that we have been in the House, collectively, for 56 years, and we have only ever, either of us, voted once against the Conservative Whip. This will be the second time that we will both be voting against the Conservative Whip, and I want to explain why”.
“Some of my hon. Friends and others in the country believe they can assure that under circumstances where we wreck the deal, refuse to make all the payments that the EU is expecting and falsify its expectations of a reasonable departure, the EU will then reasonably set out to work with us in a calm and grown-up way to ensure a smooth departure. It may be so. I am in no position to deny that it will be. I do not make lurid projections. Anybody who believes that they know it will be so is deluded”.
Robert Jenrick, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, rejected the proposals in the House of Commons, saying:
“As I made clear, the Government do not want or expect a no-deal scenario. That was why we negotiated the withdrawal agreement, which will see us leave the EU in a smooth and orderly way on 29 March and sets the framework of our future relationship. As we heard from my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin) and my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham and Stamford (Nick Boles), the best way of avoiding a no-deal scenario, if that is of grave concern to Members, is to support the withdrawal agreement next week.
Unless Parliament agrees a deal, the UK will leave the European Union on 29 March with no deal, as that was the agreement we all knew when we voted to trigger article 50. That is now the law, and amendment 7 does not change that simple truth”.