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  1. ITV Report

Government minister resigns in latest Brexit rebellion

The North East Bedfordshire MP Alistair Burt has resigned as a Foreign Office minister. Credit: ITV News

The Foreign Office minister and Bedfordshire MP Alistair Burt has resigned from the government after voting for Parliament to take control of the Brexit process.

Mr Burt supported an amendment against the government which would pave the way for the House of Commons to hold indicative votes on a way forward on Britain leaving the European Union.

Alistair Burt has been the MP for North East Bedfordshire since 2001. He has been a Foreign Officer minister since June 2017 and before that he was a Health Minister 2015-16.

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Conservative MPs Nick Boles (Grantham & Stamford), Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon) and George Freeman (Mid Norfolk) voted against the government.

"It is with great sadness I resigned from the Government last night. Having accepted the result of the Referendum, I have worked and voted consistently for the best outcome for the country and constituency, which is to leave the EU with a good arrangement for the future.

Despite the best and determined efforts of the Prime Minister, her Agreement with the EU continues to be rejected by Parliament. We are running out of time for an alternative and the risk of leaving without a deal, and continuing serious and disruptive uncertainty is affecting the U.K. profoundly.

Parliament should seek urgently to resolve the situation by considering alternatives freely, without the instruction of party whips, and Government should adopt any feasible outcome as its own in order to progress matters. I did not believe the Government was prepared to do that, so had to vote to ensure this happens.

I remain a supporter of the Conservative Government, and the Prime Minister. But we have to come to a conclusion for the country’s sake.

– Alistair Burt MP

Three other Conservative MPs from the Anglia region also voted against the government.

They were Nick Boles (Grantham & Stamford), Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon) and George Freeman (Mid Norfolk). They were among 30 Tory MPs who supported the amendment.<

MPs approved the cross-party amendment which allows Parliament to seize control of the Commons agenda by 329 votes to 302, a majority of 27.

The Department for Exiting the EU said the vote on Sir Oliver Letwin's amendment set a "dangerous, unpredictable precedent" for the future.

"It is disappointing to see this amendment pass, as the Government made a clear commitment to provide a process to find a majority in Parliament for a way forward this week," a spokesman said.

Mr Burt was among three pro-EU ministers to quit for voting against their own government along with Richard Harrington and Steve Brine.

Theresa May acknowledged that she still did not have sufficient support to bring back her deal to the Commons. Credit: House of Commons/PA Wire/PA Images

The vote came after the Prime Minister Theresa May acknowledged that she still did not have sufficient support to bring back her deal to the Commons for a third "meaningful vote".

She said she would continue her efforts to build support for the deal - defeated by 230 votes in January and 149 votes in March - and stage a vote before the end of the week.

The European Council last week set a deadline of Friday for her to secure parliamentary approval for her Withdrawal Agreement if the UK is to leave the EU with a deal on 22 May.<

If she cannot get it through the Commons, then the UK has until 12 April to propose a different approach or crash out of the EU without a deal.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the Government had been Credit: House of Commons/PA Wire/PA Images

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn welcomed the result, hailing the fact the House had now "taken control".

He said: "This Government has been an abject failure and this House must now find a solution.

"This House must also consider whether any deal should be put to the people for a confirmatory vote."

Pro-Europe Tory MP Nick Boles said: "It is a much better victory than any of us had dared hope."

Mr Boles added: "We will be relying on the Government to reflect Parliament's wishes.

"If, ultimately, the Government refuses to listen to what Parliament has voted for then we will look to bring forward a Bill, pass an Act of Parliament that will require the Government to reflect Parliament's wishes in its new negotiating mandate."