Brexit indicative votes: Four things we learned as MPs had their say on EU withdrawal options

A deadlocked Parliament failed to produce a clear majority for an alternative to Theresa May’s twice-rejected Brexit deal.

Eight options were put to MPs on Wednesday in a series of indicative votes on a way forward for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

While all of them were rejected, the margin of votes for and against each could provide an insight into what is to come.

Here the Standard outlines what we have learned from the votes and what could happen next…

There was no clear majority for any of the alternatives to Theresa May’s Brexit deal (AFP/Getty Images)

The call for a customs union came closest to a majority

It won support from 264 MPs but was rejected by 272.

Supporters view it as a way of protecting trade flows between a post-Brexit UK and the European Union, protecting manufacturing industries which rely on the just-in-time arrival of components and would face major disruption if red tape at the border held up deliveries.

But critics say it would prevent the UK from striking trade deals with countries around the world, as tariffs would have to remain aligned with those set by Brussels

MPs reject all eight Brexit alternatives

A ‘confirmatory’ referendum on any deal also had significant support

Some 268 MPs voted in favour of putting any deal agreed by Parliament to a public vote, making it the proposal which garnered the most support. However, there were 295 votes against it.

But deputy Labour leader Tom Watson said it was a sign of “growing support for our compromise solution”.

Brexit deadlock: House Speaker John Bercow (AFP/Getty Images)

The Government remains committed to the PM’s deal

The two “meaningful votes” on the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Bill saw it fall to defeats by a margin of 230 and 149, with 242 MPs supporting it at the second time of asking.

Supporters of a customs union and second referendum pointed out both options received more backing than Mrs May’s deal.

But Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay told MPs: “The results of the process this House has gone through … strengthens our view that the deal the Government has negotiated is the best option.”

MPs remain deeply divided

Even Sir Oliver Letwin, architect of the plan to hold a series of indicative votes on Brexit options, said it was disappointing that no proposal had secured a majority but he had anticipated as much and so MPs can do it all again on Monday.

Additional reporting by PA


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