Brexiteers have reacted with anger after the House of Commons voted to stop the UK leaving the EU without a deal, whilst the Tory Party is in disarray after Prime Minister Theresa May lost control of her own motion.
Veteran Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage said immediately after the vote, “A total disgrace, Parliament no longer represents the people,” adding, “This is a Parliament of outright liars. We will have to fight them again. And mark my words — we will beat them once more.”
Mr Farage later penned a piece for The Telegraph, where he confirmed what he had written in 2017 that “The great Brexit betrayal has begun,” noting, “Well, although it pains me to say it, the vote in Parliament to take no deal off the table proves that, 20 months ago, I was right.”
Tory Brexiteer MP Bernard Jenkin called it a “sad day for democracy” whilst MEP Dan Hannan accused “Tory Euro-zealots” of “delegitimising our system of government.”
UKIP Member of the London Assembly David Kurten called the vote “shameful,” saying that “they have defied the will of the people,” while UKIP tweeted that the “political establishment must now prepare for a political earthquake” with a resurgence of the party at the polls.
Politicians and pundits from both sides of the political both aisle and both sides of the Brexit argument are also questioning how Mrs May can go on as prime minister after tonight’s votes.
The voting began on the Spelman amendment, which sought to rule out leaving the EU without a deal, notably to remove the reference to leaving without a deal remaining the default option.
Expected to be voted down, it indeed passed by a slim majority of four, 312 to 308, meaning the government’s motion was amended. Tory MPs were whipped to vote against it, nine of them backed it: Guto Bebb, Ken Clarke, Justine Greening, Dominic Grieve, Sam Gyimah, Phillip Lee, Antoinette Sandbach, Caroline Spelman, and Ed Vaizey.
After the amendment changed the text of the vote the government had brought, the prime minister found herself voting against her own motion — which she had supported — and for a no-deal Brexit, the party whips scrambling to instruct Tory MPs to likewise vote against it.
However, the amended government motion passed by 321-278 votes, meaning a number of Tories ignored the whip, and may be asked to resign.
Sarah Newton MP is said to have resigned as minister, the 15th to resign over Brexit, and it is likely more resignations are to come.
It is being reported in the British mainstream media that four or five Cabinet members did not vote for the amendment, whilst others are reporting that they abstained. Downing Street is believed, according to the Guardian, to hold that any ministers who voted against the whip will be expected to resign, those who abstained “will not.”
Five attending members of the Cabinet did not vote on the Government's main motion: Amber Rudd, David Gauke, Greg Clark, David Mundell and Claire Perry. pic.twitter.com/5EmgA026iT
— Alasdair de Costa (@addadc) March 13, 2019
On the matter, Tory MP Mark Francois said that collective responsibility had “disintegrated” in the party and the whips might as well “pack up and go home.”
“What I’ve seen tonight is one of the most chaotic things I’ve ever seen in the House of Commons,” Mr Francois said.
“If ministers do what the hell they like, then the government is barely in office,” he added.
Asked whether he would be moved to back May’s deal now, the European Research Group deputy chairman said that he was not — a position backed by fellow ERG deputy chairman Steve Baker who told Parliament, “I’ll say to the government now, when meaningful vote three comes back, I will see to it that we keep voting this down however many times it’s brought back, whatever pressure we’re put under and come what may. Please don’t do it. Keep going back to the EU and say, ‘It wont pass.’”
However, as Leave Means Leave co-chairman Richard Tice pointed out that while “The result of these votes shows Remainers are taking over Brexit… legal certainty remains no deal on 29 March.”
Chairman of the European Research Group (ERG) Jacob Rees-Mogg also said in the House of Commons after the vote that though “the motion of this vote is important, it cannot override statute law.”
And Mr Farage also noted in his Telegraph piece, “Depressing though [Wednesday] night’s Commons result is, it does not change the legislation still in place under the EU Withdrawal Act. By law, the UK must leave the EU on March 29 – unless the government changes the legislation.”
“I now think there is a 30 per cent chance we will leave with no deal following an impasse at next week’s EU summit,” the MEP continued, “If so, we can all get on with the rest of our lives.
“If not, we will see greater political change in Britain than we have seen in modern times. Either way, I am confident that the public is with us. They, after all, believe in democracy and in Britain.”
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