VIDEO: Brexit brinkmanship continues as MPs demand new deal
MPs in Westminster have finally agreed on a Brexit plan - but grave doubts remain over whether the European Union will agree to it.
After a series of votes on amendments to the Government’s EU withdrawal bill which suffered such a humiliating defeat two weeks ago, MPs voted to reject the controversial Northern Ireland backstop in favour of as yet unspecified ‘alternative arrangements’.
The vote now means Theresa May will go back to the EU asking for changes to the plan they agreed with her in November, but early indications were that the Europeans were in little mood to compromise.
The only other vote passed was a non-binding motion rejecting a so-called no-deal Brexit, meaning that without a vote to delay or revoke Article 50, the default position remains that the UK will leave the EU on March 29 - deal or no-deal.
Earlier, Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield explained why MPs were finding it so difficult to find agreement.
He said: “It is deeply frustrating – but that is reflective of Parliament doing its job.
“The procedures of Parliament are set up in such a way that the Government puts forward proposals and the opposition critiques them. But with Brexit there are no binary choices which is why you see the problems since the referendum.”
Mr Blomfield, who is also one of the Labour Party’s spokesperson on Brexit, said Theresa May could have achieved an agreement that carried cross-party support in the Commons, but had refused to take it.
He said: “We really shouldn’t be in this position. If she had committed to remain close to the EU then the would have been a majority in the Commons and she could have begun to bring the country together, but her obstinacy has led us to where we are.”
Sheffield Heeley MP, Louise Haigh, agreed. She said: “When Theresa May suffered an historic defeat, she could have reached across Parliament and to trade unions and businesses and come back with a deal that MPs could pass.
“But what she has done instead is to capitulate to the hard right of her party and conceded important concessions on the Northern Ireland backstop which will completely undermine the hard won deal she got on the open border.
“I am clear that we are leaving the EU but I won’t vote for her deal. I just want to make sure we get the best possible deal for my constituents.
“But Parliament now has to show some leadership and be clear about what kind of Brexit we do want.”