Brexit alternative votes a ‘predictable farcical process‘

The process by which MPs voted on alternative Brexit options was a predictable farce, senior Welsh Brexiteer David Jones has said.

The former Brexit minister told Wales that the UK must leave the EU on Friday of next week.

, including a customs union.

However, campaigners in the Commons who want another referendum said their option was gaining support.

Mark Drakeford, Wales‘ first minister, said Parliament was “veering dangerously close to a catastrophic” no deal exit of the European Union.

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As things stand the UK is due to leave the EU on 12 April, without a deal having been agreed in the House of Commons.

The Commons voted on four motions for leaving the EU, including a customs union and a Norway-style arrangement – keeping the UK in the single market – but none gained a majority.

The votes were not legally binding, so the government would not have been forced to adopt the proposals.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said the “only option” left was to find a way forward that allows the UK to leave the EU with a deal.

“If the House is able to pass a deal this week it may still be possible to avoid holding European elections,” he said.

Of the Welsh Conservatives Alun Cairns, Welsh Secretary, abstained, while Simon Hart supported the Norway-style arrangement, and voted against the rest. Guto Bebb voted against a customs union, and backed the other options.

Other Welsh Conservatives voted against the options.

Three People‘s Vote supporters among Labour MPs – Owen Smith, Jo Stevens, Anna McMorrin – voted against both the so-called soft Brexit customs union and Norway-style arrangements.

The two options had found backing among most Welsh Labour MPs. Plaid Cymru abstained on a customs union, but supported the other alternatives.

David Jones, Conservative Clwyd West MP, said: “This farcical process has predictably come to no conclusion.

“We must now revert to the default position under the law and leave the EU on Friday of next week. That is what people voted for, and that is what we must deliver.”

A plan for a confirmatory public vote gained the largest numbers of MPs to back it – including most Welsh Labour MPs and Plaid Cymru‘s four members – but it was still defeated.

It is possible that the options could return to the House of Commons on Wednesday in an attempt to whittle them down further.

‘Another step‘

Owen Smith, Labour MP for Pontypridd, said: “Tonight was a good night for the People‘s Vote – which secured the largest number of votes out of all the motions considered by MPs.

“Today we took another step towards that goal.”

Welsh Conservative Stephen Crabb, MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire and a former Welsh Secretary, said: “I was keen to see a full and open debate on the alternative options and broke my party whip to enable that to happen. But the truth is that none of the options today were better than the deal that has already been negotiated.”

Consensus is getting closer, Labour MP for Delyn David Hanson said.

“Neither the PM deal or no deal commands confidence and tonight, once again, all other options have been voted down,” he said.

“However consensus is getting closer – and the margin of defeat tonight is closer on a couple of options – I think we need to try again later in the week.”

Plaid Cymru called for Article 50 to be revoked in the event of a no-deal becoming inevitable – a motion to that effect failed to pass.

Liz Saville Roberts said: “The broken Westminster system is continuing to fail the people it‘s meant to represent. With eleven days before we crash out of the EU, MPs must now realise we need the safety net of cancelling Brexit.”