Brexit: Cabinet to meet after deadlock in Commons votes

Theresa May is preparing for five hours of cabinet talks, after MPs again failed to agree on proposals for the next steps in the Brexit process.

MPs voted on four alternatives to the prime minister‘s withdrawal deal, but none gained a majority.

A customs union with the EU was rejected by three votes while a motion for another referendum got the most votes in favour, but still lost.

The UK is due to leave the EU on 12 April but could yet seek an extension.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay told MPs that if they wanted to secure a further delay from the EU, the government must be able to put forward a “credible proposition” as to what it would do.

One suggestion has been the possibility of a general election – but former foreign secretary Boris Johnson told political editor Laura Kuenssberg that would likely “infuriate” voters.

Instead, Mr Johnson said he believed a new leader and “change in negotiation tactic” could “retrofit” the PM‘s “terrible” agreement with the EU.

The on Monday night were not legally binding, but they had been billed as the moment when Parliament might finally compromise.

That did not happen, however, and one Tory MP – Nick Boles, who was behind one of the proposals – resigned the whip in frustration.

that he would remain an MP and sit in the Commons as “an Independent Progressive Conservative”.

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Mrs May‘s plan for the UK‘s departure has been rejected by MPs three times.

Last week, Parliament took control of the process away from the government in order to hold a series of votes designed to find an alternative way forward.

but none was able to command a majority, and on Monday night, a whittled down four were rejected too. They were:

Those pushing for a customs union argued that their option was defeated by the narrowest margin – only three votes.

It would see the UK remain in the same system of tariffs – taxes – on goods as the rest of the EU – but prevent the UK from striking independent trade deals with other countries.

Those in favour of another EU referendum pointed out that the motion calling for that option received the most votes in favour, totalling 280.

Mr Barclay said the “only option” left now was to find a way forward that allows the UK to leave the EU with a deal – and the only deal available was the prime minister‘s.

If that could be done this week, he added, the UK could avoid having to take part in elections to the European Parliament in May.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock agreed it was time for Mrs May‘s deal to be passed.

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But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that while it was “disappointing” that none of the proposals secured a majority, he said he wanted to remind the Commons that Mrs May‘s deal had been “overwhelmingly rejected”.

He urged MPs to hold a third round of indicative votes on Wednesday in the hope that a majority could yet be found for a way forward.

For months, Parliament has been saying “Let us have a say, let us find the way forward,” but in the end they couldn‘t quite do it. Parliament doesn‘t know what it wants and we still have lots of different tribes and factions who aren‘t willing to make peace.

That means that by the day, two things are becoming more likely. One, leaving the EU without a deal. And two, a general election, because we‘re at an impasse.

One person who doesn‘t think that would be a good idea is former foreign secretary and Brexiteer Boris Johnson.

He told me going to the polls would “solve nothing” and would “just infuriate people”. He also said that only somebody who “really believes in Brexit” should be in charge once Theresa May steps down. I wonder who that could be…

Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb told Look East he was “ashamed to be a member of this Parliament” and hit out at MPs in his own party – five of whom voted against a customs union and four of whom voted against Common Market 2.0.

Senior EU figures showed their frustration at the latest moves in Westminster.

European Parliament Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt that by voting down all the options, a “hard Brexit becomes nearly inevitable”.

Europe editor Katya Adler said the mood in Brussels was one of disbelief – that the UK still does not seem to know what it wants.

She said EU leaders were also questioning the logic of arguing over things like a customs union or Common Market option at this stage, because right now, the UK has only three options as they see it – no deal, no Brexit or Theresa May‘s deal – and anything else is a matter for future talks once the UK has actually left.

What next?