May’s final warning to Tory rebels: back me or lose Brexit

Theresa May in parliament after MPs voted to reject leaving the EU without a deal.

Theresa May will attempt one final desperate roll of the dice on her Brexit deal, issuing a stark warning to mutinous Brexiters that they must approve her offer by next week or face a long article 50 extension.

The prime minister was humiliated yet again amid chaotic scenes on Wednesday night in parliament, as her cabinet ruptured three ways and MPs inflicted two more defeats on the government to demand no deal should be taken off the table permanently.

In an unprecedented night of Tory splits, four cabinet ministers, Amber Rudd, David Mundell, David Gauke and Greg Clark, defied their party’s last-minute whip and refused to vote against the government’s own motion, after it was amended to rule out any prospect of no-deal Brexit.


Brexit no-deal vote: a brief timeline of chaos

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7pm Caroline Spelman declines to move her amendment aimed at taking a no-deal Brexit off the table for good – but Yvette Cooper, one of the other signatories, moves it instead.

7.16pm MPs back the amendment by 312 votes to 308, defeating the government.

7.21pm Word gets out that the government now plans to whip against its main no-deal motion because it has been amended to rule out no-deal in all circumstances. Rumours begin to fly of ministers being ready to resign to defy the whip.

7.33pm MPs reject the Malthouse compromise – an amendment in favour of a managed no-deal Brexit – by 374 votes to 164.

7.42pm Tory whips attempt to force MPs to vote against the amended motion they had effectively already backed. A number of cabinet ministers now reported to be abstaining.

7.49pm May is defeated again – with the margin of loss increasing from four to 43.

7.55pm May tells MPs that if they do not back a deal soon she will have to seek a long article 50 extension.

8.01pm Names emerge of government ministers – including Amber Rudd and David Gauke – who abstained on the vote, amid continuing rumours that they could be forced to resign.

8.09pm Sarah Newton, a junior pensions minister, resigns after defying the whip to vote against the government.

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Six other cabinet ministers also splintered to back a separate proposal for a “managed no deal”, despite the prime minister’s warning that the plan was doomed.

After her defeat, May signalled she would gamble one last time on forcing through her Brexit deal, bringing forward a motion on Thursday on delaying Brexit which would “set out the fundamental choice facing this house”.

If MPs agreed a deal, she said, the government would request a “short, technical extension” to article 50, a hint that May plans a third meaningful vote next week.

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Theresa May says clear majority against no-deal Brexit – video

Without an agreed deal, she said, there would be a “much longer extension” that would require the UK to take part in European parliament elections. “I do not think that would be the right outcome,” May said.

In a defiant reply, Steve Baker, the vice-chair of the European Research Group of hard Brexiters, said rebel Eurosceptics would not be cowed. “I’ll say to the government now, when…

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