60% of MPs voted for alternatives to PM’s deal last night

by Hugo Dixon | 02.04.2019

The motion calling for a referendum on any Brexit deal came top in last night’s “indicative” votes in the Commons. But two soft Brexit motions also did well. We now need extra time to explore these properly. Sensible MPs and ministers must force the prime minister if she refuses.

280 MPs voted in favour of the Kyle-Wilson proposal that any deal is put to the people (motion E). Another 87 MPs didn’t back this proposal but voted for either a customs union (motion C) or “Common Market 2.0” (motion D), which envisages the single market and something like a customs union.

In total, 367 MPs voted for alternatives to the prime minister’s miserable Brexit deal – 60% of the 610 MPs who voted. That’s a big majority in favour of Parliament taking a different route.

The extra 87 MPs were roughly equally split between Tories and Labour. The breakdown is as follows:

  • 21 Tories pro customs union (CU) and anti-People’s Vote (PV)
  • 10 Tories pro CU but abstained on PV
  • 13 Tories pro Common Market 2.0 (CM2.0) but not CU and anti-PV
  • 1 Tory pro CM2.0 but not CU and who abstained on PV
  • 16 Labour MPs pro CU and who abstained on PV
  • 21 Labour MPs pro CU and anti-PV
  • 4 SNP MPs pro CM2.0 and who abstained on PV
  • 1 independent MP pro CM2.0 and who abstained on PV

What’s more, this doesn’t take into account 28 Cabinet ministers who abstained on everything yesterday. Perhaps a dozen of these could support a confirmatory referendum or one of the two soft Brexits.

Now, of course, none of yesterday’s motions actually got a majority. But that’s not surprising. MPs are in the early days of exploring the alternatives to Theresa May’s deal.

The two soft Brexit options haven’t been fully specified. The customs union proposal, which got 273 votes, is staggeringly vague. The Common Market 2.0 scheme, which got 261 votes, is only partially specified.

Until and unless more details are filled in, MPs also won’t know whether these proposals are deliverable. After all, the EU needs to agree anything the UK suggests – and it is already clear that it won’t accept everything in the Common Market 2.0 plan.

MPs were looking yesterday at two soft Brexit options that were covered in make-up. It’s only when they come back, warts and all, that they will be able to make a considered judgment about which is the least bad form of Brexit – one of these two soft options or, perhaps, the prime minister’s deal.

Although it was good that the referendum motion came top last night, it was also premature. A People’s Vote needs to be attached to a specific and deliverable form of Brexit. And that will only be possible when MPs have finished the job of exploring all alternatives.

The top priority now is to get extra time. MPs must then pick their poison and put it to the people.

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Edited by Luke Lythgoe

3 Responses to “60% of MPs voted for alternatives to PM’s deal last night”

  • Bloody hell Hugo, that’s the most stretched and desperate statistics manipulated to get to your own agenda as I’ve seen through this whole debacle.

    Each option was rejected by those who voted – simple

  • The Cabinet spent all day not coming up with a solution. No further extension to Article 50 will be approved without a valid reason. The EU has suggested either a second referendum or a general election might be acceptable. Theresa May needs to combine her Withdrawal Agreement with a Confirmatory Referendum and get Parliament to vote on that. First, it is different to the Withdrawal Agreement on its own; and second, it might just get a majority to avoid crashing out with a No Deal.
    Taking the indicative votes separately was never going to produce a majority, with the mix of support as listed above. The public need to have the final say on this, with a choice between May’s Deal and No Brexit; not between May’s Deal and No Deal !

  • @ David Murray
    “The EU has suggested . . . a second referendum . . . might be acceptable” as a reason to give a further extension.
    I am surprised it has not been acceptable to the PM. She is committed to implementing the ‘will of the people’ as at June 2016, when they ‘instructed’ the government to leave the EU, and she has laboured (if that term is acceptable to a tory politician) ,mightily to that end since. But she has failed to get the Withdrawal Agreement through parliament. Maybe it is too late but if an offer of a confirmatory referendum freed the blockage to getting the WA through, then she and her government could vigorously champion it in a new referendum campaign. This is consistent with her commitment to follow the people’s ‘instruction’. Win or lose, no one could then say she had not done her utmost to implement the ‘will of the people’, 2016 version. In short, a second referendum is an alternative and quite legitimate means to meet her commitment to implement the result of the first. Why should she not be confident of succeeding?
    The quote above will be taken by some to prove the charge that the EU makes folk vote again if they voted wrong the first time, to gain one more click of the ratchet to secure the EU superstate, trampling the ancient liberties of the English if not British people.