An attempt by MPs to take control of the Brexit process out of the Government’s hands has succeeded in yet another humiliating defeat for the Prime Minister. It was passed by 329 votes to 302, a majority of 27, and the same majority passed the main motion, 327-300.
A key amendment, tabled by former minister Sir Oliver Letwin, demanded parliamentary time to allow backbench MPs to start the process of organising a series of indicative votes from Wednesday.
In a statement to the House earlier in the day Mrs May said that she was prepared to allow votes on her own terms but could not support an amendment that took control out of the Government’s hands.
Business minister Richard Harrington announced ahead of the vote that he would resigning in order to vote in favour of the amendment.
He said in his resignation letter that the Government’s approach to Brexit “is playing roulette with the lives and livelihoods” of British people.
This evening I wrote to the PM to offer her my resignation pic.twitter.com/Z0QU5lbeJ1
— Richard Harrington (@Richard4Watford) March 25, 2019
There were rumours of further resignations after Tory ministers were reportedly seen in the lobby voting in favour of the amendment.
Alistair Burt, a foreign office minister, was one of those who quit his position in order to vote against the Government.
The plan aims to allow the Commons to establish whether there is a majority for any Brexit outcome.
It is expected that the options will range from variations of the Prime Minister’s deal to a no-deal Brexit or revoking Article 50.
MPs have twice rejected a no-deal Brexit and they look to have a chance to influence what happens next if Mrs May’s deal does not receive parliamentary approval.
The exit date of March 29 has already been delayed following a formal request from the UK to the EU.
The Department for Exiting the EU said the vote on Sir Oliver Letwin’s amendment set a “dangerous, unpredictable precedent” for the future.
“It is disappointing to see this amendment pass, as the Government made a clear commitment to provide a process to find a majority in Parliament for a way forward this week,” a spokesman said.
“This amendment instead upends the balance between our democratic institutions and sets a dangerous, unpredictable precedent for the future.
“While it is now up to Parliament to set out next steps in respect of this amendment, the Government will continue to call for realism – any options considered must be deliverable in negotiations with the EU.
“Parliament should take account of how long these negotiations would take and if they’d require a longer extension which would mean holding European Parliamentary elections.”