A general election is increasingly likely, a Cabinet minister has told The Independent, after MPs voted down Theresa May‘s Brexit deal for a third time 

The prime minister put a slimmed down version of her deal to MPs on Friday, in a last-ditch attempt to meet an EU deadline to secure a short extension to May 22.

But her efforts ended in failure on the day the UK was originally scheduled to quit the EU, despite the reluctant support of hardline Brexiteers such as Dominic Raab, Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Iain Duncan Smith.

A grim Ms May told MPs that they were “reaching the limits of the process”. She now has until April 12 to offer new proposals to Brussels with new proposals or see the UK leave without a deal that day.

Asked whether an election was now becoming a clear possibility one Cabinet source told The Independent without hesitation: “Yes. Absolutely. No question.”

There has been speculation that the vote itself was set up for 29 March to make a show of Jeremy Corbyn’s party voting against Brexit ahead of a pending election campaign.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, has said the SNP will work with other parties to find a way forward on Brexit after Theresa May’s deal was rejected for the third time.

The SNP has also said that it would like a debate to be held discussing Conservative MP Nick Boles’ Common Market 2.0 plan.

Mr Boles said he welcomed the indication of support.

“Strongly welcome this indication of SNP support for Common Market 2.0,” the MP said on Twitter.

“We have modified the motion in response to their concerns. I hope they feel able to vote for it on Monday.”


A second MP has reported being harassed by protesters in Parliament Square today.


Joanna Cherry, SNP justice and home affairs spokeswoman said she was “relieved” to leave Westminster following a day of protests.


“Very relieved to be safely back to my base in London,” she said. 


“Was abused by trailing ends of the Leave Means Leave protest as I walked home. Called a traitor.


“Told to go back to my own country.”


Hundreds of pro-Brexit protesters have filled Parliament Square today.


Lisa Nandy, Labour MP for Wigan, earlier said she was “accosted” while outside parliament.

A general election is looming after Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement was defeated for a third time on Friday.


The prime minister has strongly hinted that she is considering taking the country to the polls.


There has also been speculation that Friday’s vote was designed to make a show of Jeremy Corbyn’s party voting against Brexit ahead of a pending election campaign.


Lisa Nandy,the Labour MP for Wigan, has said she was “accosted” outside parliament before Friday’s vote.


“Today outside Parliament I and others were accosted by people shouting f****** traitor as we tried to get in to vote,” she said, in a post on Twitter.


“Our staff were advised to leave the building for their own safety. There were armed police everywhere. This is not normal.”


Hundreds of pro-Brexit protesters remain gathered in Whitehall and Parliament Square on what was supposed to be the day the UK left the European Union.

Vote Leave has dropped its appeal against the Electoral Commission’s findings that the organisation committed “multiple offences under electoral law” during the 2016 referendum campaign.


“We have been advised that Vote Leave has paid its £61,000 fine and look forward to receiving the sum in full,” an Electoral Commission spokesperson said.

When Theresa May steps down, what will her legacy as prime minister be?


Our columnist Patrick Cockburn argues that she should be remembered for her “lethal blend of tunnel vision and obstinacy that automatically produces ill-judged decisions”.


“Her list of blunders is too long to repeat here but must include her decision to treat the outcome of the EU referendum as if it was a decisive choice by the British people,” he writes.



The vast majority of Labour MPs voted against the withdrawal agreement earlier today.


 Our political correspondent Ashley Cowburn notes that Conservative MPs have been quick to criticise Labour and Jeremy Corbyn in the vote’s aftermath.



Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, continues to push for a People’s Vote on Brexit.


[Theresa May’s] deal is now dead,” he said after Friday’s vote.


“The PM must now do the right thing – immediately revoke Article 50 and give the British public the final say on Brexit.” 


Meanwhile, with chances of a general election increasing, the Labour Party is encouraging its Twitter followers to register to vote.

Nigel Farage has appeared in front of pro-Brexit protesters in Parliament Square.


“Frankly, I believe that what’s happened over there, has not just turned this day that should’ve been one of great celebration into a day that history will mark as a day of great betrayal,” he said


“I believe that what’s happened over the course of two years is actually one of the saddest and worst chapters in the history of our nation.” 

Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s prime minister, has said the EU must be open to a long extension of Article 50 if the UK decides to fundamentally reconsider its approach to Brexit.


“The Government notes the decision of the House of Commons to reject the indicative withdrawal agreement,” he said in a statement released after Friday’s vote.

“It is now up to the UK to indicate how it plans to proceed in order to avoid a no-deal scenario.

“The European Council has agreed unanimously that the withdrawal agreement will not be reopened.”

“I believe we must be open to a long extension should the United Kingdom decide to fundamentally reconsider its approach to Brexit and put back on the table options previously ruled out.

“I believe that will result in a generous and understanding response from the 27.”

Nigel Dodds, deputy leader of the DUP, has told the BBC that he would prefer to see the UK remain in the EU if there is no other way of preserving Northern Ireland’s current position.





French President Emmanuel Macron has said that if the British parliament does not approve Theresa May’s Brexit deal by 12 April then Europe would decide with Britain on the timeframe for its exit.

It came moments before MPs on Thursday rejected the British prime minister’s attempt to get her withdrawal agreement through Parliament.

“The implications of the House’s decision are grave, the legal default now is that the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on 12 April,” Ms May told the Commons after her latest defeat. 


The UK is now “likely” to crash out of the European Union in two weeks’ time after Theresa May‘s failure to win support from MPs for her withdrawal agreement, the EU Commission has said.

In dramatic scenes, MPs rejected Ms May’s deal for the third time by 58 votes, as hundreds of protesters filled the streets of Westminster to demonstrate their fury at the delay to Brexit day.

The prime minister now has until April 12 to come up with a new plan to take to Brussels so she can secure a longer extension to the negotiations or crash out without a deal.


Chris Grayling – the transport secretary – told the BBC after the defeat:  “What the House has just done is to vote effectively to leave this country either leaving the EU on April 12 with no deal, reversing Brexit or kicking it into the far long grass.

“I don’t think that’s what the majority in this country wants. We are going to have to think very hard over the next few hours how we respond to that. This is a hugely disappointing response that is absolutely not in the national interest.”

Solicitor general Robert Buckland told the BBC: “The prospect of no Brexit is becoming a very real one indeed.”

Mr Buckland said that among MPs there had been “a lot of wishful thinking about being able to go back time and time again and not enough thinking about things from the EU’s point of view”.

He warned: “We can’t guarantee we will get a further extension. That very much depends on what the French and other countries think. We are in completely uncharted waters.”

The European Commission has released a statement following vote, calling no-deal “a likely scenario”.

The statement reads: “The Commission regrets the negative vote in the House of Commons today.

“As per the European Council (Article 50) decision on 22 March, the period provided for in Article 50(3) is extended to 12 April.

“It will be for the UK to indicate the way forward before that date, for consideration by the European Council.

“A ‘no-deal’ scenario on 12 April is now a likely scenario. The EU has been preparing for this since December 2017 and is now fully prepared for a ‘no-deal’ scenario at midnight on 12 April. The EU will remain united.

“The benefits of the Withdrawal Agreement, including a transition period, will in no circumstances be replicated in a ‘no-deal’ scenario. Sectoral mini-deals are not an option.”


DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said: “The Democratic Unionist Party has consistently and repeatedly indicated that we could not support the Withdrawal Agreement because of the construction of the backstop.

“We have reached this view from a principled position as we do not believe the Withdrawal Agreement is the best way forward for the United Kingdom.”

He added that “good progress” had been made in talks with the Government on domestic legislation to ensure the “economic integrity” of the UK but “sufficient progress has not been made”.

Liberal Democrats leader Sir Vince Cable tweeted: “Today’s outcome was entirely predictable. No amount of parliamentary trickery can breathe life back into May’s deal. The only route to resolve the crisis is a final say with the option to Remain in the EU.”

He added: “A long extension to Article 50 is now clearly needed, and a People’s Vote is the best way to persuade European leaders to agree one.”

Five Labour MPs voted for withdrawal agreement


Kevin Baron


Rosie Cooper


Jim Fitzpatrick


Caroline Flint


John Mann

After Theresa May’s crushing defeat in the Commons, the European Council president Donald Tusk has announced an emergency session of EU leaders. It is here that a further, and longer extension will likely be granted. 


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