Second Brexit deal defeat throws UK politics into crisis

By Charlie Cooper

Rejection by House of Commons leaves Theresa May’s strategy in tatters. MPs in Westminster dealt another heavy defeat to the Brexit deal agreed between the U.K. and the EU, voting against it by 391 to 242 — a majority of 149.

It is the second time that the House of Commons has rejected the deal following the thumping 230-vote margin of defeat when Prime Minister Theresa May first called a ratification vote in January.

 
In a late night agreement with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday, May achieved a series of “legally-binding” additions to the deal that was originally negotiated in November last year. These were aimed at reassuring Brexiteers on her backbenches that the U.K. would not be stuck in the controversial Northern Ireland backstop in perpetuity.
 
But her Attorney General Geoffrey Cox — a member of the negotiating team and the government’s chief law officer — delivered a legal opinion on the deal which proved fatal to May’s chances of getting it through the Commons. He confirmed that the U.K. did not have a unilateral right to exit the backstop, which led the European Research Group of Tory Brexiteers and the Democratic Unionist Party to conclude they would not support the deal.

 

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