I could never have guessed it but the bums really did squeak in the Commons yesterday.
The failure so far of the indicative vote process was a narrow squeak, but even so, it revealed a genteel amateurishness about the whole process. Clearly many of them failed to heed Ken Clarke’s s advice and vote right down the list. With so little experience of brokering deals and still inured to their party tram lines, they failed to caucus like Americans or Canadians or adopt alternative voting. Nor surprise at this reaction..
Jessica Elgot, The Guardian
Recriminations tonight are some of the bitterest I’ve heard. Fury from soft Brexit backers at second referendum campaigners. Anger coming back at them for refusing a compromise motion to put soft deal to referendum. Parliament in a dark, dark place. Also worth saying, despite all this, the main problem with every single option tonight was a failure to convince enough Tories.
Brexit options (in order of majority) Customs union 273-276 (-3) Referendum 280-292 (-12) Common Market 2.0 261 – 282 (-21) Revoke A50 191- 292 (-101)
A summary of the instant reports covers the story best. Perhaps lessons will be learned by Wednesday if they have another go.
Oliver Wright, The Times
Why did MPs fail to reach any kind of consensus last night?
Partly because the Commons is itself deeply divided, not just between hard and soft Brexiteers but between soft Brexiteers and those who want a second referendum. In the event last night not enough MPs were prepared to compromise. Labour backers of a second referendum refused to support a Norway-style soft Brexit or a customs union. At the same time, despite a supposed free vote, Tory whips put pressure on their MPs not to back a softer Brexit to give Theresa May’s deal another chance.
One idea being floated is for Mrs May to link a vote on her deal to a confidence motion in the government as a whole — an option fraught with danger. Some Brexiteers suggested yesterday that they would rather collapse the government than back the prime minister’s deal.
Mrs May’s aides know that, by Monday, the government will formally have to have tabled to the EU yet another request to extend the Article 50 process before an emergency Brexit summit on Wednesday. They hope that if they can get a majority for her deal over the line, they would be able to ask for a limited extension to pass the legislation necessary to ratify the withdrawal agreement. If that is not the case European leaders are likely to offer only a much longer extension and require participation in next month’s European elections.
Daily Telegraph politics team
The Tories will now push Mrs May to pivot to a no deal Brexit, but the Prime Minister will hold a marathon five-hour session with her Cabinet on Tuesday in attempt to create unity around her EU Withdrawal Agreement…. She will use Monday’s results to impress on ministers and backbench MPs her belief that her deal is the only way to avoid a worse outcome, such as a long delay, a general election or a customs union.
George Parker FT
Downing Street’s best hope is that Eurosceptic Tories back down rather than risk a soft Brexit or no Brexit at all. One option being considered this week is a “run-off” between Mrs May’s deal and a soft Brexit Plan B, if one can be agreed by MPs. On Monday night MPs rejected all alternatives to the PM’s deal.
But Eurosceptic Tories say if Mrs May was to advocate a soft Brexit it would shatter the Conservative party, which fought the 2017 election on a promise to leave the customs union and single market. Even if MPs endorsed a soft Brexit option, it is hard to see how any Conservative prime minister could deliver it. If half the Tory party and senior cabinet ministers refused to back the policy, Mrs May would need Labour votes to implement it.
After Mrs May’s deal was rejected on Friday, the European Commission said a no-deal Brexit was now a “likely scenario” and that it was ready for such an outcome at midnight on April 12. Last month Mrs May was persuaded by a Eurosceptic faction in her team to gear up for a no-deal Brexit; the prime minister vowed she would not allow Britain to stay in the EU beyond June 30.
Downing Street now admits that parliament would never allow Britain to leave the EU without a deal, at least not of its own volition
Tom Newton Dunn The Sun
Excl: Cabinet’s massive dust up tomorrow – some Brexiteer Cabinet ministers will demand Theresa May issue a final ultimatum to the EU to improve the backstop, or its No Deal on April 12: “All we can do now is take this to the wire”.
But other Cabinet ministers say there is growing consensus to reluctantly accept a customs union if PM’s deal is defeated, to get any Brexit “over the line”. * Only Liam Fox and Penny Mordaunt’s resignations feared, other Brexiteers said to begrudgingly accept the plan
Iain Martin, Times columnist
Presumably at last moment revoke and 2nd referendum MPs will fuse with worried Remain-leaning ministers and vote to demand govt revoke. And that collapses the govt on eve of no deal. Or May flips to long extension. Collapsing the govt.
PM believes that at a stroke the Boles plan would have destroyed main pro-UK argument in a Scottish independence referendum: stay in UK as the only way to maintain full access to Scotland’s largest market in rest of UK
Robert Peston ITV News
The two most important results tonight are that the confirmatory referendum got more votes than any other option and Clarke’s customs union option lost by the narrowest option
The probability of no-deal Brexit on 12 April now considerably greater than evens, with parliament unable to coalesce around any single solution to the mess. The point is neither the government or parliament is able to answer the simplest question from EU’s 27 leaders, namely.. what exactly would you do with any delay to Brexit to end all the cancerous uncertainty”. I have just seen DUP and Brexity Tory MPs who are cock-a-hoop. Cabinet faces massive decision tomorrow. For weeks now I’ve been telling you we’re on this path, to modestly delayed no-deal.
So to avoid no deal on 12 April the UK now has to: 1) Pass the PM’s deal, probably by the end of this week 2) Or make a convincing case to the EU about what it would do during a long extension. That case will really have to be formed by Monday of next week. 3) Or revoke Art 50.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London