MPs back prime minister to renegotiate Brexit deal - but vote to block leaving without a deal
- Credit: PA
MPs have authorised Theresa May to go back to Brussels and try to renegotiate her Brexit deal.
But one of the prime minister's most important negotiating weapons was ripped from her hands on Tuesday night, as the House of Commons voted to block a no-deal Brexit in a non-binding decision.
The result of a series of votes on amendments to Mrs May's Brexit Plan B comes as the clock ticks towards the scheduled date of EU withdrawal on March 29.
Mrs May had issued a plea for MPs to give her a clear 'mandate' to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement which she agreed with the EU last November and seek to secure changes to its controversial backstop provision.
And she secured the backing of the Commons to go back to Brussels, as MPs voted by 317 to 301 in favour of a proposal from Conservative grandee Sir Graham Brady for her to try to replace the backstop with 'alternative arrangements' to keep the Irish border open after Brexit.
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Speaking after the result, the prime minister told MPs there is a 'substantial and sustainable' majority in the Commons for leaving the European Union with a deal but admitted renegotiation 'will not be easy'.
She said: 'Tonight a majority of members have said they would support a deal with changes to the backstop combined with measures to address concerns over Parliament's role in the negotiation of the future relationship and commitments on workers' rights in law where need be.
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'It's now clear there is a route that can secure a substantial and sustainable majority in this House for leaving the EU with a deal.'
Earlier in the evening, MPs issued an order to prevent a no-deal Brexit, passing a cross-party amendment headed by Conservative Dame Caroline Spelman and Labour's Jack Dromey.
It won by 318 votes to 310, and 'rejects the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship'.
It came after MPs rejected a bid to delay Brexit, put forward by Labour former minister Yvette Cooper, in order to prevent a no-deal departure.
Other amendments were defeated, including one by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to force a debate on Labour's Brexit plans.
Mr Corbyn told the Commons he was prepared to meet the prime minister to discuss Brexit.