POLITICS
02/04/2019 8:06 AM AEDT | Updated 02/04/2019 7:13 PM AEDT

MPs Again Fail To Agree A Plan To Break The Brexit Deadlock

More rows have broken out among MPs after parliament again failed to agree a single proposal to break the Brexit deadlock for a second time.

The second round of ‘indicative votes’ on four alternatives to Theresa May’s troubled deal failed to produce a majority for anything at all.

A call for a customs union with the EU was rejected by just three votes, while a demand for a second referendum was defeated by 12 and a Norway-style deal put forward by Nick Boles by 21.

In another dramatic day in the Commons, Boles immediately declared that he would no longer sit as a Conservative MP - blaming the party for refusing to compromise on a means of leaving the European Union.

The prime minister will now consider what course of action to take given MPs have rejected her deal, no deal, and all the alternatives.

Cabinet ministers will meet for five hours on Tuesday to try and thrash out a way through the mess, but few are expecting a decision to be reached that satisfies both Leavers and Remainers in May’s top team.

Statista
Infographic supplied by Statista.

The failure of any option to gain a majority in the Commons left the UK no clearer about its direction with the prospect of a no-deal Brexit on April 12.

Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay told the House of Commons that the default legal position is that the UK will leave the EU in 11 days’ time and that to secure an extension Britain must provide a “credible” plan.

He went on that if the Commons is able to agree a deal this week, it would still be possible to avoid European Parliament elections in May.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said it was “disappointing” that none of the options had won a majority, but said MPs should have a chance to consider them again on Wednesday.

Boles, a former minister, was applauded by some MPs after he quit the Conservative Party after his Brexit alternative plan was defeated for a second time.

Raising a point of order, he told the Commons: “I have given everything to an attempt to find a compromise that can take this country out of the European Union while maintaining our economic strength and our political cohesion.

“I accept I have failed. I have failed chiefly because my party refuses to compromise.

“I regret therefore to announce I can no longer sit for this party.”

Tory MP Huw Merriman MP could be heard saying: “Oh Nick, don’t go, come on.”

Merriman, an aide to Chancellor Philip Hammond, later pointed out how the People’s Vote had achieved the highest number of votes of the alternatives.

“Let’s ask the people if they can put the prime minister’s deal through,” he told the BBC’s Newsnight.

He also attacked Steve Baker,  the lead Brexiteer who had earlier told SkyNews: “Everyone knows I’m ‘Brexit hardman Steve Baker’ - as far as I’m aware.”

Merriman said Baker was “like Dad’s Army without the rations”.

“The reality is these people are living in a deluded land,” he said.

“We can either carry on going for the next 10 years or we face realistic positions.

“Parliament has failed people, I’m embarrassed about that.”

But bitter divisions emerged within Labour ranks as well as the Tories, after it emerged that 33 of the party’s MPs abstained on the Common Market proposals.

Stephen Kinnock, who had pushed the Boles plan for a Norway-style exit, told HuffPost UK: “I am deeply, deeply disappointed by the fact that 33 Labour MPs campaigning for a second referendum abstained on Common Market 2.0.

“Many of us have deep reservations about a second referendum but we put those reservations aside and voted for it but unfortunately that wasn’t reciprocated.”

Analysis of Monday’s votes showed some 25 Labour MPs rebelled against their party whip to vote against the Boles plan, tabled under the banner Common Market 2.0.

Just 33 Conservatives backed the scheme, which would keep the UK in the single market with a “comprehensive customs arrangement” with the EU after Brexit.

The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt tweeted that when the Commons next voted on Wednesday, it would have to finally come to a consensus or face leaving the EU without a deal.

MPs have control of proceedings in the Commons for a third time on Wednesday, but Speaker John Bercow said it was not yet clear what debates and votes will be staged.

The mastermind of the plan, Conservative former minister Sir Oliver Letwin, is expected to set out his proposals on Tuesday.

Tory Brexit hardliners pressed the Prime Minister to now take a tougher line with Brussels.

Tory MP and European Research Group (ERG) vice-chairman Mark Francois said: “This evening, an attempted coup took place in the House of Commons, involving leading members of the Cabinet and backbenchers to prevent Brexit. The coup failed.”

Prominent Brexiteer Nigel Farage tweeted “Nothing has changed” after MPs rejected all four Brexit alternatives tabled for the second round of the indicative vote process.

Farage was quote-tweeting his own tweet from March 27, in which he had written: “No majority for anything in Parliament, but there is a majority in the country to leave the EU.”

(Infographic supplied by Statista)