- Theresa May suffers Brexit defeat after Members of Parliament back a plan to hold a series of “indicative votes” on her plans.
- The votes will allow Parliament to guide the government’s “next steps” on Brexit after May’s deal was twice defeated.
- Several government ministers resign in order to back the amendment.
- The result means the prime minister has lost control of the parliamentary timetable, with just days to go until Brexit.
- It came after May was forced to abandon her plan to hold a third vote on her Brexit deal this week.
LONDON – Theresa May has suffered a major Brexit defeat after Members of Parliament voted to seize control of the the prime minister’s plans for leaving the EU.
MPs voted by 329 to 302 to back an amendment which will allow the House of Commons to stage a series of “indicative votes” later this week, which are designed to guide the government’s next steps on Brexit.
The result means the House of Commons will on Wednesday have the power to vote on alternatives to May’s plan which are expected to include a softer Brexit, a second referendum, and potentially revoking Article 50.
30 Conservative MPs rebelled against May to back the amendment with several ministers also resigning from the government.
In his resignation letter, Business Minister Richard Harrington said he had stepped down in order to prevent May’s government from “playing roulette with the lives and livelihoods of the vast majority of people in this country”.
He was joined by the Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt and the Health Minister Steve Brine.
In a statement, the government described the result as “dangerous”.
“It is disappointing to see this amendment pass as the government had made a clear commitment to provide a process to find a majority in Parliament for a way forward this week,” a spokesperson for the Department for Exiting the European Union said.
“This amendment instead upends the balance between our democratic institutions and sets a dangerous, unpredictable precedent for the future.”
May had previously considered plans to bring forward her own version of indicative votes, but resisted confirming such a vote on Monday, saying she remained “sceptical” of such votes.
“I continue to believe doing so would be an unwelcome precedent to set which would overturn the balance of our democratic institutions,” she said.
“I must confess that I am sceptical about such a process of indicative votes. When we’ve tried this kind of thing in the past, it’s produced contradictory outcomes or no outcome at all.”
The amendment, which was brought forward by Conservative MP Oliver Letwin, was passed despite attempts by ministers to persuade MPs that “time would be made available” to hold some form of indicative votes at some point in the future.
It also came after the prime minister abandoned her plans to hold a third “meaningful vote” on her Brexit deal this Tuesday.
The prime minister told the House of Commons on Monday afternoon that she had abandonedher plans to hold a vote as “there is still not sufficient support in the House to bring back the deal.”