Updated: Brexit deal defeated, for the second time

Sky News

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s revised deal was rejected by 391 votes to 242 on Tuesday evening. The House of Commons has therefore rejected the deal for a second time with a majority of 149 votes.

A ratification vote was first called by May in January which was rejected by a 230-vote margin.

Twitter / House of Commons

In her statement delivered in Parliament, May said that she stands by the commitments she had announced two weeks ago in case she lost the vote. The Prime Minister announced that a debate and vote on leaving the EU with no deal will take place on Wednesday with the Tory MPs being granted a free vote.

Further Prime Minister stated she is conscious of the need to honour the referendum but at the same time she is aware of how important it is to leave the Union with a deal in place. May also said that if MPs vote to leave without a deal then this will become government police. A vote on Thursday on extending article 50 will take place in case MPs reject the a no deal Brexit.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during his address stated that the House must unite around a proposal that can be negotiated saying that the plan has been put forward by Labour. Corbyn further told the House that maybe the UK should have a general election.

SNP leader at Westminister, Ian Blackford said that the way forward might also include a second referendum.

The Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable asked the House if there has been any precedent when a Prime Minister was defeated twice but proceeded with the same policy.

Could the Brexit deal be lost?

Despite Prime Minister Theresa May’s efforts to secure further assurances on the withdrawal agreement with the European Commission, a large number of MPs are not convinced.

The Democratic Unionist Party, the Conservative’s Northern Irish coalition partner, state that in light of the PM’s efforts to seek a deal to command a majority in the Parliament,  ‘we recognise that the prime minister has made limited progress in her discussions with the European Union.’

The DUP add, ‘However in our view sufficient progress has not been achieved at this time.’

The move marks a further and more serious blow to the Prime Minister’s efforts to secure a deal that would pass in this evening’s crucial vote on the Brexit deal. The DUP are expected to vote against it.

Responding to the viewpoints, the Prime Minister remains determined that the government must ‘deliver Brexit’ and that if the deal does not get the full support of the House of Commons, ‘Brexit could be lost’, she said.

‘A bad deal would be even worse than no deal, but this is a good deal.’, she stresses.

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Legal risk unchanged

The most anticipated news next to the vote this evening was whether the current Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox, would change his legal advice in light of PM’s efforts in Brussels.

Addressing Parliament, the AG told MPs that the government had managed to achieve ‘legally-binding changes that strengthen and improve the withdrawal agreement and political declaration’ on the Irish backstop thus reducing risk of an indefinite and involuntary detainment of the UK within the customs Union, if talks between both sides broke down.

But, Cox also stated that the risk of the UK staying tied to the UK,‘remains unchanged’ but that would be ‘unlikely to occur’.

This could come as a result of ‘bad faith’ on the part of the EU, defined as the bloc’s refusal to ‘accept reasonable proposals’, over the Irish backstop.

However, finding a future trading relationship with the EU post-Brexit, would be a ‘political judgment’.

If this post-Brexit agreement couldn’t be reached, there was, ‘no internationally lawful means’ for the UK to leave the backstop without the EU agreeing to it.

The AG tells MPs that they must make the political call whether to back or vote against the PM’s deal.

Some MPs are questioning the risk factor from the AG, saying that it was clear the UK could not leave if they couldn’t agree their future relationship, but that risk of this happening was unlikely.

The AG’s advice is clear there is nothing allowing us to exit the backstop if both sides cannot agree the future relationship in good faith. Given that is arguably precisely the situation we find ourselves in now re the Withdrawal Agreement, how is that risk “highly unlikely”?

Responding to the AG’s advice, Joanna Cherry, the SNP home affairs spokesperson has said that she believes the advice ‘burst his party’s political bubble’.

Eyes are now on the vote this evening, with some MPs already touting that the PM will ‘lose badly’, as SNP MP Stephen Gethins has prophesized.