REMAINER MPs upped the stakes on a no-deal Brexit last night by forcing ministers to accept a veto on emergency spending.
Twenty Tories joined Labour in a show of strength hours before MPs were due to resume five days of debate on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
The prime minister (pictured) brushed off the defeat, with a spokesman insisting it was an ‘inconvenience, rather than anything more serious’. But Tory rebel Oliver Letwin said: ‘The majority here will sustain itself. We will not allow a no-deal Brexit at the end of March.’
Mrs May last night refused to give ground as she privately met some of the 200 mostly Labour MPs who wrote demanding she rule out a no-deal.
But she is facing a growing call to delay Brexit beyond March 29 if she loses next Tuesday’s vote. Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay said there were ‘very practical issues’ preventing an extension of Article 50 and ‘the EU have been clear that the only deal on the table is the PM’s deal’.
No.10 said new EU concessions will be announced during the debate to address concerns that the backstop to Mrs May’s deal could leave Northern Ireland with different rules to the rest of Britain, and the UK stuck indefinitely in a customs union. Former Brexit secretary David Davis urged ministers to re-open talks, while Michael Gove reportedly compared Brexiteers holding out for a better deal to ‘mid-50s swingers waiting for Scarlett Johansson to turn up’.
Jeremy Corbyn said the defeat — by 303 votes to 296 — was ‘an important step to prevent a no-deal Brexit’ and it should be ruled out ‘once and for all’.
■ ALMOST three quarters of MPs believe Theresa May has done a poor job negotiating Brexit, a poll shows. More than half of Tory MPs thought there were ‘alternative solutions’ to the backstop arrangement and that difficulties around the border question have been exaggerated, according to a survey conducted by The UK in a Changing Europe think tank and the Mile End Institute.