Theresa May considers third meaningful vote after offering to quit

Theresa May will continue to press MPs to back her Brexit deal after the Commons rejected eight alternative options in last night’s indicative votes.

The outcome of the votes ended a dramatic day in which the prime minister promised to stand down if her deal was passed and the DUP announced it would not back the deal because of the Irish backstop.

The results “plunged the process further into chaos,” The Times says, while The Guardian joked that Parliament had finally had its say: “No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.”

Ahead of the evening’s debate, May told a meeting of Tory backbenchers she was willing to leave office earlier than planned if it guaranteed Commons’ backing for her withdrawal agreement with Brussels.

She said: “I have heard very clearly the mood of the parliamentary party. I know there is a desire for a new approach – and new leadership – in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations – and I won’t stand in the way of that.”

After she told MPs she would resign as party leader after 22 May but stay on as prime minister until a new leader is elected, two opponents of her deal fell into line. Boris Johnson and Iain Duncan Smith said they now viewed her deal as the least-worst option.

Johnson told the Daily Telegraph: “I’ve done this on behalf of the 17.4 million people who voted for Brexit. I feel very, very sorry and though it fills me with pain, I’m going to have to support this thing.”

The eight options put to the vote last night included a customs union with the European Union and a referendum on any Brexit deal. They were intended to create a consensus over how best to leave the EU.

After they failed to land support from a majority of MPs, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said it strengthened ministers’ view that May’s deal was “the best option”.

But that option still faces major obstacles. The DUP leader Arlene Foster said last night that May’s deal “posed an unacceptable risk to the integrity of the UK”.

She added: “We can’t be in favour of something that threatens the union. The union comes first.”

It is believed that May is considering a third attempt to get MPs to back the deal, potentially tomorrow. But shadow cabinet sources say May’s offer to resign has only deepened Labour opposition, as even party rebels will want to prevent May from making way for a Brexiteer successor.


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