Cabinet crisis talks after MPs reject Brexit options
Second referendum or no-deal Brexit become more likely amid Commons gridlock
Theresa May and her cabinet will meet for five hours of crisis talks today after MPs rejected all four alternatives to her withdrawal deal.
The indicative votes had been billed as the moment when Parliament might finally compromise and move forward on Brexit but instead the entire process remains locked in confusion and stalemate.
The Guardian says parliament is “mired in deadlock” and The i describes MPs as “April fools”. But The Times sees a positive for the prime minister at least, saying the evening’s outcome is a “boost for May” and it hands back to her the intiative.
The four options voted on by MPs were a customs union, a Common Market 2.0, a confirmatory public vote and revoking Article 50. The customs union option was defeated by the narrowest margin, only three votes, but the second referendum option grabbed the most votes in favour - 280.
The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for a repeat of the debate on the four options, saying: “If it is good enough for the prime minister to have three chances at her deal then I suggest that possibly the House should have a chance to consider again the options that we had before us today.”
In another day of drama, former minister Nick Boles, who proposed the Common Market 2.0 option, quit as a Tory MP. He plans to sit as “an Independent Progressive Conservative”.
In an emotional address, Boles told MPs: “I have given everything to an attempt to find a compromise that can take this country out of the European Union while maintaining our economic strength and our political cohesion.
“I accept I have failed. I have failed chiefly because my party refuses to compromise. I regret therefore to announce I can no longer sit for this party.” As he left the chamber amid applause from the opposition benches, one Tory MP shouted: “Don't go, Nick!”
Philip Hammond, the chancellor, will tell the cabinet the government must compromise on the deal or admit the Commons has failed and hold a second referendum, The Times says.
According to Sky News, speculation is mounting that May could bring back a vote on her deal to the Commons for a fourth time and link it with a confidence motion in the government. However, many MPs believe this would be a “kamikaze move”.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said the “only option” that remains is to find a way forward that allows the UK to leave the European Union with a deal - and the only deal available was the prime minister's.
European Parliament Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt has tweeted that after the MPs rejected all the options, a “hard Brexit becomes nearly inevitable”.