MPs to vote on no-deal after Theresa May's Brexit deal suffers second defeat in Parliament

The Speaker of the House of Commons has selected two amendments to Theresa May's no-deal Brexit motion, as MPs take part in a three-and-a-half hour debate on the issue.

But Conservative former minister Dame Caroline Spelman, who had tabled Amendment A that rejected a no-deal Brexit at any time and under any circumstances, has been trying to withdraw it following its selection by John Bercow but was unable to do so as it had not yet "been moved".

The other amendment selected by Mr Bercow was Amendment F, in the name of Conservative former minister Damian Green, calls for a delay to Brexit day from March 29 to May 22 to give time for preparations to leave without a deal, the so-called Malthouse compromise.

Speaking earlier during Prime Minister's Questions, her voice still croaky, Mrs May said the House had to make some "hard choices" as MPs prepare to vote on a no-deal Brexit and extending Article 50 on Wednesday night.

Ahead of the vote, the government announced Britain will slash tariffs on a range of imports from outside the European Union should MPs opt to leave without a deal.

But some products coming from the remaining 27 EU member states which are currently imported free of tariffs will face levies for the first time in that scenario.

Facing Jeremy Corbyn during PMQs the day after her latest defeat, Mrs May said the Government will continue to work to leave the EU with a "good deal," accusing the Labour leader of repeatedly voting in a way that "brings no-deal closer".

She quipped that she still understands the voice of the nation on Brexit despite losing her own, a statement dismissed by the Labour leader who said the Prime Minister "needed to show leadership" and accept her deal had "failed".

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford also called on Mrs May to take control to avoid a no-deal scenario which would "result in unprecedented harm".

"In 16 days the UK runs the risk of crashing out of the EU with a no-deal and we know from the Government's own analysis that that will crash the economy," he said during PMQs.

"Why doesn't the Prime Minister show some leadership today, do the right thing and whip all her MPs to take no deal off the table on 29th March and forever?"

In order to avoid a walkout by Cabinet ministers who oppose a no-deal Brexit, Mrs May has given Tories a free vote on Wednesday evening's no-deal motion.

  • What has been the reaction in Europe?

European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier delivers his speech during a plenary session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday. Credit: AP

Following Tuesday night's defeat of Mrs May's deal, EU leaders expressed their dismay at the state of negotiations with 16 days to go until the March 29 exit deadline.

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier insisted there will be no further offer from Brussels apart from the deal already on the table, and it is now "the responsibility of the UK" to suggest a way forward.

He told the European Parliament: "What will their choice be, what will be the line they will take? That is the question we need a clear answer to now. That is the question that has to be answered before a decision on a possible further extension."

Mr Barnier added: "The risk of no-deal has never been higher. That is the risk of an exit - even by accident - by the UK from the EU in a disorderly fashion."

European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt urged MPs to find a cross-party majority for a deal as he appealed for MPs to put "Queen and country first".

European Parliament Brexit chief Guy Verhofstadt addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Credit: AP

Mr Verhofstadt said: “Please make up your minds in London, because this uncertainty cannot continue. Not for us, not for Britain and certainly not for our citizens.”

He said he was against an extension until Britain was able to tell the EU want they wanted.

European Council President Donald Tusk posted an image on Instagram, said to be from a six-year-old girl named Sophie from London.

It read: "Dear Mr Tusk, I live in Britain. I know we are leaving the EU. But I think we should be friends. From Sophie, aged 6."

It was accompanied by an illustration of a unicorn.

Mr Verhofstadt said the letter put "everything in perspective" on a post on Twitter, adding "what a terrible waste #Brexit is".

Theresa May said she 'profoundly regretted' the result. Credit: PA
  • What happened during Tuesday night's vote?

Parliamentarians rejected the Withdrawal Agreement by 149 votes on Tuesday evening, arguably dashing any remaining hope that the prime minister's deal will eventually pass through Parliament.

In total, 391 MPs voted down the deal and 242 backed it.

If Parliament declines to approve a no-deal scenario, a vote on extending Article 50 will take place on Thursday.

Jeremy Corbyn during Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday.

Here's how the next few days could unfold:

  • Wednesday: MPs vote whether they want to leave EU with no-deal

  • Thursday: If no-deal is rejected, MPs vote on extending Article 50

  • After that: Mrs May warned if both motions were rejected then this could lead to revoking Article 50 or a second referendum

The result comes despite Mrs May having secured "legally-binding" changes to the contentious backstop issue - an apparent EU concession thrashed out during last-ditch talks with Jean-Claude Juncker in Strasbourg on Monday.

But ahead of the vote, attorney general Geoffrey Cox warned that in his opinion the changes did not eliminate the legal risk of Britain becoming stuck in the backstop arrangement.

Mrs May's deal was initially rejected in January by MPs 432 votes to 202, the worst defeat for a government in more than a century.

Protesters gathered outside Parliament ahead of the vote. Credit: PA

Speaking to the Commons after the result was announced, Mrs May said she "profoundly" regretted the decision the House had taken.

The prime minister said that the choices facing the UK were "unenviable", but added that now her deal had been knocked down for a second time "they are choices that must be faced".

Former prime minister Tony Blair urged MPs to vote down a "disastrous" no-deal and use an extension to come to a decision on the type of Brexit Britain wants.

In a video posted on Twitter, Mr Blair accusing the government of trying to argue for "two inconsistent things at once".