For the second time in a week, UK Members of Parliament have again rejected all Brexit options under consideration – making a no deal-Brexit “nearly inevitable”.
All four of Monday’s Indicative Vote options, designed to find which courses of action are most acceptable to MPs, were defeated in the Commons. The same happened last week. One further attempt is likely to be made on Wednesday.
The closest option to being won was from veteran Tory Ken Clarke, for a permanent customs union. It was defeated by just three from 273-276. Last week, it was lost by six votes.
After the votes, Brexit Secretary, Stephen Barclay, said, “The default legal position is that the UK will leave the EU in just 11 days time.
“To secure any further extension, the Government will have to put forward a credible proposition to the EU as to what we will do with that extra time… The only option is to find a way through which allows the UK to leave with a deal.”
The Pound immediately dropped on the outcome, falling against the US Dollar from 1.311 to 1.304 in typical Interbank rates. Halo Financial’s Head of Corporate Dealing, Ricky Nelson, says, “The market had hoped MPs could agree on a way forward. The result means there is fresh concern over the confusion a no deal Brexit on 12th
April would cause.”
Business leaders continue to voice concerns
Business leaders again despaired of the results. Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) national chairman Mike Cherry says: "Many small businesses will be thoroughly exasperated at yet another day of total stalemate.”
He adds, "Prolonged uncertainty will leave the UK’s millions of small firms unable to plan, invest or grow. Those who have managed the expense and resources of planning contingencies face mounting costs the longer this chaos continues.”
Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General of the Confederation of British Industry, Tweeted. “Still no majority. Desperately disappointing. But a way forward is emerging. A mutually beneficial customs union with the EU could build consensus and can’t be ignored. Government must listen and act. Threat of no deal cannot be allowed to undermine economy any longer.”
What happens next?
The European Parliament’s chief Brexit spokesperson, Guy Verhofstadt, says a no-deal Brexit is now “nearly inevitable”. Wednesday is the UK’s “last chance to break the deadlock or face the abyss.”
House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow, selected four Indicative Vote options to be considered out of eight put forward.
Nick Boles’ proposal for common market 2.0, with
UK membership of the European Free Trade Association (Efta) and European Economic Area, was defeated by 21 votes (261-282). That was much closer than the previous defeat of 189-283.
As a result, Mr Boles immediately quit the Conservative party, saying the party refused to compromise. He will now sit as an Independent Progressive Conservative.
Labour MP Peter Kyle’s proposal for a confirmatory public vote was defeated by
12 votes (280-292). Previously, it was voted down by 295-268.
Scottish National Party MP Joanna Cherry proposed revoking article 50 in the face of no-deal Brexit. It lost by 101 votes (191-292). Last week, it was defeated by 184-294.
Comfortable in their own skin?
Earlier, a dozen climate change protesters stripped off in a topless protest in the House of Commons public gallery and glued themselves to the glass. A group called Extinction Rebellion claimed responsibility “to try and force the issue up the news agenda”.
MPs carried on with their debates, but took the protest in their stride, with Labour’s Peter Kyle joking about “the naked truth” and Conservative Justine Greening saying her intervention was all about “fleshing out” the argument.
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