MPs reject revised Brexit deal by overwhelming majority

Posted By: March 12, 2019

RTE. Dublin. Tuesday, March 12, 2019

• MPs vote down deal in House of Commons by 391 votes to 242
• MPs to vote tomorrow on whether they want to leave EU without a Withdrawal Agreement
• Should MPs reject tomorrow’s vote, there will be another vote on Thursday on an extension to Article 50
• Up to UK to solve Brexit impasse, says Barnier
• Eastwood says MPs have to accept backstop ‘at some point’
• UK Attorney General says backstop legal risk ‘unchanged’
• Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald said the outcome of the vote shows the “absolute disregard for the people of Ireland, for our rights, our economy and the Good Friday Agreement that is at the heart of the Tory Brexit agenda”.

“The Withdrawal Agreement is imperfect but it is the only deal on offer,” she said.

“The ‘backstop’ contained is a guarantee that no hard border will be imposed on this island and protects the Good Friday Agreement.

“We are 17 days away from Brexit and the uncertainty and confusion continue.

“A crash-out Brexit would be unthinkable for the peace process, jobs, trade and to the loss of people’s rights and quality of life, particularly in border communities.

“Despite giving assurances to Theresa May the EU has made clear that the Withdrawal Agreement is not going to be reopened for negotiation.

“There is now a need to intensify planning for a no-deal crash with an imperative to ensure no return to a hard border, protections of our agreements and safeguarding the rights of citizens,” said Ms. McDonald.

The Tánaiste has said that he is deeply disappointed with the result of the vote in Westminster.

Simon Coveney said the Government had worked for months with its EU partners to try to offer the assurances and clarifications that the British Government was looking for to get the deal ratified.

He said the onus was now on the British government and the British parliament to come up with solutions.

The Tánaiste was adamant that the focus has to be on London because that is where the “crisis is and that is where the solutions need to come from”.

The Government would continue to plan for a no-deal Brexit which he said looks closer now that it did a few hours ago.

A no-deal Brexit scenario is a lose, lose, lose for everybody, he warned.

“We need to all work to avoid that but we cannot do it without the British parliament buying into that process and agreeing on something.”

• Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The Prime Minister and the UK Government should be hanging their heads in shame this evening. Tonight’s outcome was entirely predictable and if they had been prepared to listen at any stage and engage constructively instead of simply pandering to Brexit extremists, they could have avoided it.

“Instead, we now have a government that has effectively ceased to function and a country that remains poised on a cliff edge.”

• Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said he would “intensify” his country’s no-deal preparations.

He wrote on Twitter: “Deeply saddened by the outcome of the #Brexit vote this evening.

“Despite clear EU assurances on the backstop, we now face a chaotic #NoDeal #Brexit scenario. And time is almost up. We will intensify our #NoDeal preparation.”

• Ian Blackford, the SNP Westminster leader, called the vote an “utter humiliation for the Prime Minister”, adding “we are now in a crisis”.

He told Sky News: “We must tomorrow remove any prospect of no deal. No deal would be disastrous.

“There is a real threat to jobs on a massive scale if there is no deal, the threat to the supply of medicines and food.

“We must in the first instance take our responsibilities in getting that risk off the table.”

• Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that a “credible and convincing justification” will be needed for any extension to the UK’s negotiation period beyond 29 March.

Mr. Rutte said he “regrets” the outcome of tonight’s vote and said he stood by the Withdrawal Agreement and the backstop.

“A solution must come from London,” said Mr. Rutte.

“Should the UK hand in a reasoned request for an extension, I expect a credible and convincing justification. The EU27 will consider the request and decide by unanimity. The smooth functioning of the EU institutions needs to be ensured.”

• Asked about tomorrow’s vote on whether the UK should leave the EU without a deal on 29 March, DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds told Sky News: “Our position is simple.

“The best way to get a deal you can actually vote for is to keep the threat of a no-deal on the table.

“Once you take that threat off, you are bound to be offered terms which are less advantageous in the sure and certain knowledge that the other side has that you’re not going to walk away. So, it’s totally self-defeating, it’s utterly counter-productive.” 

• Alliance leader Naomi Long has called for a second referendum.

“The House of Commons is good at saying what it is against, but can’t manage to give a clear answer on what it is for,” she said.

“But the UK is too close to the cliff-edge and every day of uncertainty sees more and more economic and social damage.

“The clearest, most coherent and most democratic route through this impasse lies with a people’s vote, including both the Prime Minister’s deal and the Remain option.

“This needs to be tested in parliament as a matter of urgency.” 

• A Downing Street source said Theresa May had not discussed resigning with her team and said it “remains the case” that the Commons recently expressed its confidence in the British government.

The source said: “It still remains the case that the House of Commons as a whole has quite recently expressed its confidence in the government, which is of course led by the Prime Minister.”