News | Published March 13 2019

May's Brexit deal defeated by 391 to 242

Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement was defeated in the House of Commons by 391 votes to 242 votes last night.

Despite Attorney General Geoffrey Cox securing some clarification on how the UK could exit the backstop, the government's deal was defeated, with 242 voting for and 391 voting against.

Today, the House will vote on whether to leave the EU without a deal. 

If MPs reject the possibility of leaving with no deal, the House will vote on whether to extend Article 50 tomorrow.

The vote took place in the aftermath of the publication of Cox's updated legal advice on the contentious backstop, Britain's exit from which, he said, would still depend on political good will rather than legal obligation.

Despite securing some concessions, Cox concluded that "the legal risk remains unchanged" and that if there were "intractable differences" between the two parties, the United Kingdom would not have "internationally lawful means of exiting the Protocol's arrangements." 

Following the publication of this advice, both the European Research Group and the DUP released statements saying these assurances were not sufficient.

Among other things, it was the loss of support from these two important factions that secured the prime minister's defeat.

Sir Bill Cash, head of the "Star Chamber" of the ERG, stated that "In the light of our own legal analysis and others, we do not recommend accepting the government's motion."

Similarly, the DUP released a statement criticising the extent of the concessions, arguing that "sufficient progress has not been achieved at this time."

The EU has stated that another round of negotiation is, under current circumstances, not possible.

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Authored by

George Salmon
Political Editor
March 13 2019

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