LIVE: Theresa May battles through final hours to fight off historic Brexit deal defeat

UK Prime Minister Theresa May

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

  • LIVE: MPs prepare to vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
  • The House of Commons will vote on the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement at some point after 7 p.m. this evening, five weeks after it was postponed.
  • The prime minister is set for a big defeat, potentially by a majority of over 200 votes.
  • The biggest ever defeat of a UK government was by a majority of 166 votes nearly 100 years ago.
  • A series of amendments could help to lessen the scale of the defeat.
  • Jeremy Corbyn is preparing to launch a vote of no confidence in the government.

LONDON — Members of Parliament will tonight vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal after weeks of debate and delay.

MPs will finally vote on the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement on Tuesday evening after the prime minister postponed the so-called meaningful vote last month amid fears of a huge defeat.

Despite assurances from May and the European Union on the most controversial aspects of the deal, specifically the Northern Irish backstop, MPs are set to inflict a big defeat on the deal, potentially by a majority of over 200 votes.

If, or when, May’s deal falls the big question will be what the prime minister will do next.

She is expected to make a statement immediately following the result in which she could spell out a Plan B. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is also poised to table a motion of no confidence in the government as early as this evening if the deal is voted down by a huge margin, according to multiple reports.

MPs are set to vote on amendments to the Withdrawal Agreement shortly after 19:00 (GMT) with the main vote coming afterwards and a final result expected later in the evening.

Scroll down for the latest developments in a historic day in British politics. All times are in GMT.

10:30: Could the Murrison amendment hand May a lifeline?


First things first: What is the Murrison amendment?

Every MP knows that May’s deal is going to be defeated tonight.

A motion from Brexit-supporting Tory MP Andrew Murrison — a loyalist to the prime minister— could offer her a lifeline for events that come after, though.

The amendment would give conditional support to her Brexit plan but dictate that the deal could only come into force if the EU alters the Withdrawal Agreement to include an expiry date for the Irish backstop. Brussels has repeatedly and explicitly ruled this out.

Key point: The amendment isn’t going to pass. It doesn’t have the official support of Downing Street for one thing, and Labour is not planning to back it. Plus, the amendment would only pass if MPs backed May’s deal, which they won’t.

But … If the amendment attracts support from Brexit-supporting MPs who are opposed to May’s deal, she can take that to Brussels and say she needs such a concession to win the support of parliament.

9:52: DUP’s Foster — Tonight’s vote ‘historic for the wrong reasons’


Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party intends to vote against the PM’s deal tonight, despite their confidence and supply agreement with her government.

Here’s what DUP leader Arlene Foster tweeted this morning: “Tonight will be historic but for the wrong reasons. We will oppose the toxic backstop & vote against the WA. It’s time for a sensible deal which governs our exit from the EU & supports all parts of the UK.”

The DUP opposes the deal because the backstop measures for avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland would create new border checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. The DUP — a staunch pro-union party — regards any divergence as unacceptable.

09:42: Could Corbyn table a no confidence vote tonight?


Speaking on Sky News, Liberal Democrats leader Sir Vince Cable says that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn should table a vote of no confidence in the government tonight or tomorrow if Theresa May loses tonight’s vote.

There has been much speculation that Corbyn could table announce one tonight, but he could be tempted to delay on the grounds that he does not currently have the numbers to win the vote, with DUP and Tory MPs united — for once — in their opposition to the prospect of a Corbyn-led government.

Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald told Sky this morning that a vote would happen “soon.”

09:10: Senior Labour MP withdraws amendment


Labour MP and chair of the Commons Brexit committee Hilary Benn has agreed to withdraw his amendment to the Withdrawal Agreement. His amendment was designed to kill off May’s Brexit deal and the threat of no deal.

However, his Labour colleagues warned him that if it passed, the amendment would have negated the need for tonight’s meaningful vote, as May’s deal would already be dead. This would have spared the government the humiliation of a potentially massive defeat.

Benn’s decision to withdraw means we will definitely get a vote on the Brexit deal tonight as planned (unless the prime minister postpones again …)

08:35: Michael Gove warns MPs: “winter is coming”

Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

Good morning! And welcome to Business Insider’s live coverage of the meaningful vote.

We’ll be providing minute-by-minute updates all day and through the night as Theresa May braces for herself for a potentially massive rejection of her Brexit deal.

Environment Secretarty and supporter of May’s deal, Michael Gove, just told BBC Radio 4 that if MPs vote it down this evening, “in the words of Jon Snow, ‘winter is coming’.”

The leading Brexiteer was quoting the Games Of Thrones character, not the Channel 4 host.

May has warned that if Parliament does not accept her deal then chaos will be unleashed on the country, with a strong possibility of Brexit being cancelled altogether.

Our Brexit Insider Facebook group is the best place for up-to-date news and analysis about Britain’s departure from the EU, direct from Business Insider’s political reporters. Join here.


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