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Brexit: UK government is defeated in historic Commons vote

Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal has been voted down by MPs in the House of Commons.

MPs rejected the deal which sets out the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU on the 29th March, voting it down 432 votes to 202.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has since tabled a vote of no confidence in the government, which has the potential to trigger a general election depending on the vote.

MPs will now vote tomorrow on whether or not they have the confidence in Theresa May’s government.

If the Prime Minister remains, a statement will be made on Monday to the Commons on the government’s next course of action. Between now and then, the government is expected to consult with MPs to see what changes would need to be made in order for the deal to pass with a majority.

In a statement immediately following the vote, Prime Minister Theresa May set out her intention to stay and fight, and win the confidence vote.

If MPs vote with no confidence, there will be a 14 day window in which individuals can attempt to command a majority of the House.

Statement by President Juncker on the outcome of the Meaningful Vote in the United Kingdom House of Commons:

“I take note with regret of the outcome of the vote in the House of Commons this evening.

“On the EU side, the process of ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement continues.

“The Withdrawal Agreement is a fair compromise and the best possible deal. It reduces the damage caused by Brexit for citizens and businesses across Europe. It is the only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

“The European Commission, and notably our Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier, has invested enormous time and effort to negotiate the Withdrawal Agreement. We have shown creativity and flexibility throughout. I, together with President Tusk, have demonstrated goodwill again by offering additional clarifications and reassurances in an exchange of letters with Prime Minister May earlier this week.

“The risk of a disorderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom has increased with this evening’s vote. While we do not want this to happen, the European Commission will continue its contingency work to help ensure the EU is fully prepared.

“I urge the United Kingdom to clarify its intentions as soon as possible.

“Time is almost up.”

Reaction from Wales

Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales tweeted:

Harri Lloyd-Davies, President of the South Wales Chamber of Commerce said:

“Most businesses in Wales are left flabbergasted tonight at the inability of our politicians to reach a conclusive decision on the way forward on Brexit. To Welsh businesses and the thousands of ordinary people they employ Brexit isn’t a political game, it is a massive change to how businesses operate. A change that no-one is clear on despite it coming in less than ten weeks.

“We’ve known for some time that Theresa May’s deal was going to be voted down but MPs had the opportunity tonight to at least give direction on the way forward. They failed to do that, letting down businesses and workers alike.

“What’s happened tonight is that we’ve taken a step closer to a messy and disorderly Brexit. The risk of leaving the EU on 29 March without a deal has already led to many businesses taking negative action; pausing on recruitment and investment, stockpiling goods, and opening operations in other parts of the EU. Too many firms are spending money that could be better spent elsewhere, or battening down the hatches, to try and anticipate a future that is no clearer tonight than it was at the referendum.

“The business community understands perfectly well that Brexit is a large and laborious process, but we are fed up with the theatrics. It is crucial that those at Westminster move beyond tactical manoeuvring and take a decision on what will happen after 29 March so that businesses know what they are preparing for.

“Our focus as a Chamber of Commerce is to help our members through the transition, whether it be a few weeks or a few years. By being part of the Chamber our members can find answers to the questions they have and the practical steps they should take despite the continued uncertainty.”