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PM vows to ‘listen’ to concerns after historic defeat on Brexit deal



MPs have emphatically rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal – the biggest loss suffered by a government in 94 years.

In a resounding defeat for the prime minister, 432 MPs voted against the deal – a majority of 230 – with 202 supporting it.

Jeremy Corbyn has now tabled a no confidence motion in Theresa May’s government, giving her less than 24 hours to fight for her job.

David Warburton MP tweeted this picture of MPs in the voting lobby
David Warburton MP tweeted this picture of MPs in the voting lobby

The Withdrawal Agreement had been sealed with Brussels in November after two years of negotiation, and the historic vote now plunges the nature of the UK’s departure from the European Union into doubt.

A third of Conservative MPs – 118 in total – were among those walking through the opposition lobbies, with only three Labour MPs backing the deal: John Mann, Kevin Barron and Ian Austin.


Crowds in Westminster react to vote

The prime minister was fully prepared for the loss, springing to her feet immediately afterwards with a promise to “listen” to concerns.

She warned the result would only provide more uncertainty, and “tells us nothing” about what a majority of MPs actually support.


‘The government will listen’

Setting out her next steps, Mrs May confirmed she would hold meetings with Tory MPs, then her confidence and supply partners the DUP and a group of other senior, cross-party MPs.

She vowed to offer a “constructive spirit” but said given the time pressure as the clock counts down to Brexit day, “we must focus on ideas that are genuinely negotiable and have sufficient support”.

Mrs May also beat Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to the punch by saying there would be time cleared for a no-confidence motion – before he had the chance to call it.


‘I table motion of no confidence’

The motion will be debated throughout Wednesday, with the vote to be held at 7pm.

If successful, a new government would have to be formed using current parliamentary arithmetic. If that proves impossible, then a general election will be held.

Before the vote, Mrs May made a last-ditch plea to convince MPs to back her plan, saying: “I believe we have a duty to deliver on the democratic decision of the British people, and to do so in a way that brings our country together.”

The magic number the prime minister needed to win the crucial House of Commons vote on her Brexit deal was 318.

Before the vote, Sky News analysis suggested she would fall far short, with 224 having been expected to turn against her deal.

The UK is due to leave the EU by default at 11pm on 29 March.

Mrs May triggered Article 50 – the exit mechanism starting a countdown – two years earlier.

In a statement, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said: “The risk of a disorderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom has increased with this evening’s vote. While we do not want this to happen, the European Commission will continue its contingency work to help ensure the EU is fully prepared.

“I urge the United Kingdom to clarify its intentions as soon as possible.”

European Council president Donald Tusk tweeted: “If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?”

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