Theresa May will now be required to present MPs with a new Brexit plan within three days if her current proposal is voted down next week. There is no indication that any such Plan B exists.
The amendment to the business motion for the plan, sponsored by the Conservative MP and former attorney general Dominic Grieve, forces May to meet a three day deadline to put forward new plans if she loses the main Brexit vote, as is expected, next Tuesday (UK time).
Grieve’s amendment was passed by 308 votes to 297 after furious scenes in the house, as Tory loyalists tried to browbeat the speaker, John Bercow, into refusing to allow the amendment to be out to the vote.
Bercow ultimately refused to be swayed, saying, in effect, that Parliament had the final say, not cabinet.
If the Tuesday vote on the May plan ends in defeat for the embattled PM, she will have three days to put forward alternatives.
If May can’t do so, then her resignation seems inevitable.
The most recent polling on Brexit is astonishing. Now that the reality of leaving the European union is better understood, a whopping 63% of those asked said they wanted the UK to remain, if the Tory deal was the only way out of Europe.
YouGov questioned more than 25,000 people over the Xmas/New year period. It put up two referendum scenarios. One was Remain versus the government’s withdrawal agreement.
Remain leads by 26 points: 63% to 37%.
If the choice is Remain versus leaving the EU without a deal, a hard Brexit, Remain wins by 16 points: 58% to 42%.
The difference in the gap is that it reflects those who voted Leave in 2016. Many of them voted for a clean break with Brussels, and reject an agreement that doesn’t “take back control”, as they were promised at the time of the referendum.
However, the news is no better for Labour. Jeremy Corbyn is likely to lead Labour to their worst electoral defeat in a generation if May decides to tough it out by calling a snap election.
Corbyn, a Brexiteer leading a remain minded party, has been hopelessly ineffective battling May, a Remainer leading a Brexit minded party.
YouGov say that Labour are trailing in the polls anyway, 40% to 34%. This is a piss poor for an opposition that should be monstering the divided and shambolic Conservatives.
YouGov report that when voters were are asked how they would vote if Labour didn’t effectively resist Brexit, the Tories would leap to a 17 point lead (43% to 26%). That would see Labour do worse than when Margaret Thatcher’s thumped them in 1983, post the Falklands war.
The key reason for this swing is that voters will reject Labour if they are seen to be helping Brexit in any way. YouGov’s polling says that Labour would be deserted by millions of Remain voters, and gain no support from Leave voters.
Both Corbyn and May have big choices to make in the next few days.
The best bet would be to politely ask Europe to taihoa, call a second referendum, and never mention Brexit again.
Or, to put it another way:
Do Not Carry On