Theresa May has suffered another humiliating defeat in the Commons after MPs dramatically wrested control of the Brexit process from the government.
Pro-EU Tory ministers Steve Brine, Alistair Burt and Richard Harrington resigned from their posts to back a cross-party bid to hold indicative votes on Wednesday, allowing the Commons to test support for different Brexit options.
Some 30 Conservative MPs rebelled against the government to support the amendment tabled by Tory MP Sir Oliver Letwin, potentially paving the way for a softer Brexit deal that keeps the UK closer to Brussels.
It comes after the prime minister admitted there was “still not sufficient support” to bring her Brexit deal back to the Commons for a third “meaningful vote”. MPs have overwhelmingly rejected her plan twice already.
Welcome to The Independent‘s live coverage of the day’s political events, on what is set to be a big day in the Brexit process.
Sir Oliver acknowledged that any votes would be advisory rather than binding on the Government and it may take several rounds of voting before a majority is found for any of the options – if one can be found at all.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today:
“[Theresa May] hasn’t been able to get a majority and we don’t know what she could get a majority for, so once we find that out there is a way forward, in principle, and then the next thing would be for the Prime Minister to take that forward and for the Government to implement it.
In case you missed it, reports emerged over the weekend that a coup was under way to oust Theresa May as prime minister. Michael Gove and David Lidington are the bookmakers’ favourites to take the top job.
Speaking on the Today programme, Tory backbencher Nigel Evans, a joint executive secretary of the influential Conservative 1922 Committee, said Theresa May should set out her plans to quit in order to get her Brexit deal through.
Clearly a number of people do not want the Prime Minister anywhere near the next phase of negotiations, which is the future trading relationship between ourselves and the EU.”
Interesting development as Robert Peston, ITV’s Political Editor, reports that Theresa May has told Brexiteers she will step down if they back her Brexit deal.
The Independent‘s Political Correspondent Ben Kentish understands cabinet ministers have been invited to view “new documents” this morning ahead of an emergency cabinet meeting.
Here is what The Independent‘s Political Correspondent Ben Kentish has heard:
Theresa May has summoned her cabinet for an emergency meeting at 10am this morning, where she is expected to set out plans to give MPs a series of “indicative votes” on how to proceed if they refuse to approve her Brexit deal.
No10 will put forward its own proposal in a bid to stop the Commons passing a backbench amendment that would pave they way for parliament to seize control and hold its own indicative votes on Wednesday.
Cabinet ministers have been invited to view new documents at 9am. These are rumoured to be the options that MPs will be asked to vote on, as well as new concessions on the backstop that are designed to win over the DUP’s support.
Shadow attorney general Baroness Chakrabarti said a second referendum had never been Labour’s preferred outcome.
Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson took part in the march of hundreds of thousands of people calling for a referendum at the weekend.
But Lady Chakrabarti told BBC Radio 4’s Today:
It has never been our preference but since last autumn it has been one of a menu of options for breaking the deadlock.
And if that’s what it takes to break a deadlock in Parliament then so be it.
I have no doubt that it will be one of a menu of options that MPs ought to be able to discuss and vote on this week.”
She said Mr Watson was “an elected Member of Parliament so he is allowed to be rather more enthusiastic than me”.
Asked about party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s views, she said his job was to “desperately try to bring people together” from both sides of the Brexit divide.
Asked if Labour MPs would be given a free vote on the Brexit options, she said “we have to find a way to allow people to coalesce” but “we also are a democratic party and there was a conference motion last autumn and before that there was a general election manifesto” setting out party policy.
International trade minister, Liam Fox, is speaking on the Today programme and says there is a possibility the UK will crash out of the EU with no deal.
He says it will “lead to a constitutional crisis” as parliament is not supportive of it.
Liam Fox has claimed that Meaningful Vote 3 will only take place “if we think we can win”.
Writing in The Times Red Box, Ms Perrior said:
Maybe it’s time to stop finding scapegoats and admit that Theresa May and her lack of leadership has made a bad situation worse.
With great sadness, it’s time for her to swap her departure date in return for the deal. It’s the least she can do.
“What I was finding from real voters was people spontaneously saying ‘I don’t understand how Theresa May puts up with the pressure, she is a great public servant, her resilience is amazing’,” Dr Fox told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“There seems to me to be a bigger disconnect now between Westminster and what is happening out in the country than ever before.”
He said Tory Eurosceptics had to accept that MPs would block a no-deal Brexit.
“For a lot of my colleagues, I think they still believe there is a route to no deal. I have come to the conclusion some time ago that was unlikely given the House of Commons that we have.
“I think we will see today that there is a mood in the House of Commons to stop us leaving without a deal, even if that means no Brexit. I think that is a constitutionally disastrous position.”
The Independent‘s Associate Editor, Sean O’Grady, has explained the costs if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal:
“I’m not sure that there are many people in the House of Commons who would fancy that particular meeting with voters,” he told Today.
“It would unleash a torrent of pent-up frustration from voters and I think that the major parties will do what they can to avoid having to fight those European elections.
“There is nothing in politics like a little bit of self-interest to concentrate the minds, and I think, as we get towards that date, increasingly my colleagues will have to decide which of the limited options they want to follow.”
Political billboards have popped up across the UK, from Glasgow to Dover, thanks to anti-Brexit group Led By Donkeys.
Each board is emblazoned with a quote from a politician or public figure, taken from past speeches, interviews and social media.
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said “Good morning” to reporters as he walked through the door of Number 10 at the same time as Larry the cat.
Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns also arrived, followed shortly afterwards by Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd.
As the Tory coup against the prime minister, her de-facto deputy, David Lidington, emerged as one of the likely candidates to replace her.
Former leader and pro-Brexit backbencher Iain Duncan Smith warned his party would not accept a “ghastly” scheme that places Mr Lidington in Number 10.
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