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09th Jan 2019

Theresa May forced to present another Brexit deal within three days if it’s voted down

James Dawson

The government lost the vote, with 297 MPs voting with them and 308 against

Theresa May has been forced to present MPs with a new Brexit plan within three days if her current one is voted down next week, in a move intended to lessen the chance of Britain exiting the European Union without a deal.

The vote on the amendment was passed due to a number of Tory MPs rebelling against the whip, with the government losing by 11 votes, with 297 MPs voting with them and 308 against.

It was drawn up by the Conservative former attorney general Dominic Grieve and forces a deadline on May if the deal is voted down as is predicted next Tuesday. Previously, it had been expected that the government would have 21 days to come up with a fresh plan to put before the Commons.

Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: “The government’s decision to delay the meaningful vote has run down the clock and increased the risk of a no-deal Brexit.

“If the prime minister’s Brexit deal is defeated next week, she must return to Parliament as soon as possible and give MPs a real say on what happens next.”

Speaker John Bercow was subject to jeering in the chamber on Wednesday morning when he announced that parliament would be allowed to vote on the amendment, as parliamentary rules usually only allow a government minister to make changes to motions of this type.

“My understanding is the motion is amendable, I’m clear in my mind about that,” Bercow said.

After heckles from Conservative members, he added: “I’m trying to do the right thing and make the right judgments. That is what I have tried to do and what I will go on doing.”

The vote comes as MPs are due to begin a five-day debate on May’s Brexit deal after it was delayed in December until after the parliamentary recess.