Nearly twice as many MPs voted out the Brexit deal as voted for it, meaning that the Brexit crisis will only deepen from here on. It also means that the Memorandums of Understanding agreed by the Gibraltar Government are no longer valid and the possibility of no deal was increased.
The majority of 230 was the biggest defeat of a Prime Minister’s motion since the 1920s and led to the Leader of the Opposition to make a no confidence motion which will be discussed tomorrow Wednesday.
After eight days of debate around Brexit, the result seemed to be inevitable as a number of Conservative MPs rose before the vote to speak up against Theresa May’s withdrawal deal. One of the amendments was overwhelmingly defeated, others were not even submitted before the Speaker until finally the deal was given the floor.
Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn spoke first of the intention for the Labour government to vote against the deal and trigger a new election with a no confidence vote. He called the Brexit process “one of the most chaotic and extraordinary parliamentary processes” he had been involved in and it is only going to get worse.
In response, the Prime Minister Theresa May stood by her deal as “the best trade deal ever agreed by the EU with a third country” saying it was the only option. Among chaotic scenes in a packed House of Commons she defended the Irish backstop to avoid a hard border and said giving up on Brexit was not feasible.
She called it “the most significant vote we will ever be part of” and a decision “that everyone will have to live with for years to come”. She said that opposition to the deal was sewing “uncertainty, division and the very real risk of no deal or no Brexit at all”.
There was little mention of Gibraltar in the House of Commons although one MP did indicate that under Theresa May’s deal there would be “protracted negotiations” over our future.
For his part Donald Tusk urged the UK government to “clarify its intentions as soon as possible” saying “the risk of a disorderly exit has increased”. “This agreement is and remains the best and only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union,” he added.