News | Published February 15 2019

May to revisit negotiations despite defeat

Prime Minister Theresa May will continue in her attempts to renegotiate the backstop arrangement despite suffering a further setback in parliament last night.

May lost a motion last night that called on MPs to back her renegotiation strategy, with 303 MPs voting against. Notably, 66 of her Conservative party colleagues abstained, the BBC reported.

While the motion is not binding, it was described as an "embarrassing defeat" by The Guardian, as members of the European Research Group, chaired by Jacob Rees-Mogg, abstained from the vote.

Under-Secretary of State for Industry and Energy Richard Harrington was disappointed following the voted, describing the actions of the ERG as "treachery".

"The prime minister has done a pretty good job of standing up to them up till now, but they were drinking champagne to celebrate her losing her deal," he said in an interview with Politics Home.

Steve Baker MP, a prominent member of the ERG, explained on the Today Programme: "Where this deal to pass through Parliament with this backstop, the government would subsequently collapse because the DUP will not be able to maintain confidence and supply if this deal goes through."

May criticised Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party in light of the defeat calling on them to "put partisan considerations" to one side. In response, Corbyn tweeted: "Yet again, Theresa May's Brexit deal has been defeated."

The prime minister faced criticism from all sides of the house, however, with Conservative MP Anna Soubry arguing she was displaying a "profound lack of leadership".

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable also criticised the prime minister and reaffirmed his support for a second referendum. He stated: "The vote this evening demonstrates a complete failure of Theresa May’s Tory government.

"Tonight’s defeat of the government makes clear it is long overdue that the prime minister took no deal off the table, and offered the public a final say on Brexit with the option to remain in the EU."

Authored by

William Winter
February 15 2019

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