LIVE: Theresa May announces resignation plan as Parliament votes on Brexit alternatives

TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty ImagesConservative MP Oliver Letwin.
  • Members of Parliament take part in indicative votes on Brexit on Wednesday night.
  • The UK Parliament will vote on a range of alternatives to Theresa May’s deal, from a softer Brexit, to a referendum, to revoking Article 50.
  • Indicative vote results are expected at around 22:00 GMT.
  • May has told Conservative MPs that she will resign once a Brexit deal is passed.
  • The prime minister is planning to put her deal back to Parliament for a new vote this week.
  • Key Brexiteers like Boris Johnson have switched to back May’s deal.
  • However, numbers of pro-Leave MPs and the Democratic Unionist party are refusing to budge.

LONDON – Members of Parliament are preparing to vote on a number of alternatives to Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

The House of Commons will on Wednesday evening hold a series of “indicative votes” as part of cross-party efforts to find a Brexit plan which a majority of MPs in Westminster can support.

The votes – secured by Conservative MP Oliver Letwin – will ask MPs to indicate whether they support or oppose a variety of alternatives to May’s deal, including a “soft” exit, a new referendum, and scrapping Brexit altogether.

These votes, which are set to continue into next week, are taking place with the United Kingdom in the midst of a political crisis, after a huge majority of MPs twice rejected May’s Brexit deal with the European Union.

The results are not legally-binding but could put huge political pressure on May to adopt a new Brexit plan.

May is under pressure to quit as prime minister and on Wednesday evening told Conservative MPs that she will resign and hand over to a successor once the House of Commons has passed a Brexit deal.

Follow live developments from inside Westminster. All times in GMT.

22.00: Indicative vote results

UK Parliament / Jessica TaylorMPs during a debate on indicative votes on Brexit in the House of Commons, 27 March 2019.

The results of the Brexit indicative votes are now in. Members of Parliament failed to find a majority for any of the options. However, a motion calling for a Customs Union was only narrowly defeated suggesting that it may still pass when MPs vote again on the most popular options next Monday.

You can read the results in full here.

21:21: MPs vote to confirm Brexit delay

Thomas Niedermueller/Getty Images

As expected, MPs have voted to confirm the UK’s exit delay from the EU.

The House of Commons voted by 441 votes to 105 to delay Brexit until May 22 if MPs back May’s deal by the end of this week, or April 12 if they don’t.

Now we await the results of the indicative votes…

20:55: DUP — ‘We will not be supporting the Government’

Bad news for Theresa May.

The Democratic Unionist Party which props up her government and is key to unlocking a House of Commons majority for her deal, has announced that it still won’t support it.

“We will not be supporting the Government if they table a fresh meaningful vote,” the DUP has said in a statement released in the last few minutes.

The Northern Irish party says it has had “good discussions” with the UK government but the prime minister hasn’t delivered sufficient changes to the controversial Irish backstop.

May is expected to hold a new meaningful vote on her deal on Friday. Right now, it looks like she is heading for another defeat.

20:00: Conservative Brexiteer ‘hugged’ by Jacob Rees-Mogg for refusing to back deal

Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Steve Baker, a leading figure in the European Research Group of Brexit-supporting Tory MPs who May is trying to win over, received an “ENORMOUS” standing ovation when he gave a speech refusing to back the deal in the ERG meeting tonight, according to a source in the room.

Apparently Jacob Rees-Mogg even gave him a hug.

Crucial quote: “There is no way enough votes are coming out of that room to put the WA [withdrawal agreement] through.”

The somewhat bizarre recollection of the meeting bears repeating in full, so here it is:

“There was as ENORMOUS standing ovation for Steve Baker tonight. The first there’s been at one of these ERG meetings in three years. His voice was cracking with emotion, so much so that at the end he was hugged by Jacob and others at the top table. We are not a hugging group.

Some quotes from Steve Baker’s speech, as recalled by the source:

“I’m consumed with a ferocious rage after that pantomime [May in the ’22] …

“What is our liberty for if not to govern ourselves?

“Like all of you I have wrestled with my conscience about what to do?

“I could tear this place down and bulldoze it into the river.

“These fools and knaves and cowards are voting on things they don’t even understand.

“We’ve been put in this place by people whose addiction to power without responsibility has led them to put the choice of No Brexit or this deal.

“I may yet resign the whip than be part of this.”

19:41: More Conservative MPs are switching to back the PM’s deal

Aside from the indicative votes unfolding in the Commons, there is a slow but steady trickle of Tory MPs who have decided to back Theresa May’s deal as she prepares to bring it back for a third vote later this week.

Theresa May’s deal was defeated by a margin of 149 votes in March, meaning she needs to bring 75 MPs on board for her deal to command a majority.

So far, 20 Tory MPs from the 75 who voted against the deal earlier in March have indicated they will

leading Brexiteers Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg became one from a total of 20 Tory MPs who now plan to vote for the prime minister’s withdrawal agreement. The 10 DUP MPs who oppose the deal are still to come on board, although intensive lobbying efforts are underway.

That means 55 MPs still need to come on board for the PM to command a majority.

17:37: May promises to resign once Brexit deal is passed

Breaking news: Theresa May has told Conservative MPs that she will resign as prime minister and hand over to someone else before the next stage of Brexit talks.

May told the 1922 Committee meeting of Tory MPs that she would quit once the Withdrawal Agreement & Political Declaration is passed by the House of Commons.

She didn’t put a specific date on her departure but it looks like she could resign in the next few weeks if MPs are able to produce a majority for a Brexit deal.

The prime minister was under huge pressure to spell out her departure plans amid growing anger in the Conservative party with her handling of negotiations.

Will her announcement make Tory critics of her deal more likely to back it?

Here’s what she said:

“I have heard very clearly the mood of the parliamentary party. I know there is a desire for a new approach – and new leadership – in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations – and I won’t stand in the way of that.

“I know some people are worried that if you vote for the Withdrawal Agreement, I will take that as a mandate to rush on into phase two without the debate we need to have.

“I won’t – I hear what you are saying.”

17:20: May is addressing Conservative MPs

The 1922 Committee meeting of Conservative MPs is underway in Westminster.

Theresa May is addressing them. Business Insider’s Tom Colson is there.

16:45: Meaningful Vote 3 on Friday?

Christopher Furlong – WPA Pool/Getty Images

There are whispers in Westminster that Theresa May is on Friday going to bring her Brexit deal back to the House of Commons for a third vote.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay has just told MPs that the government will today table a motion that will allow MPs to sit on Friday, paving the way for a new vote on May’s deal.

The House of Commons has already rejected the current Withdrawal Agreement & Political Declaration twice – and by massive margins.

However, Downing Street hopes it will be able to win around enough pro-Brexit Tory MPs to get the deal over the line, amid the growing possibility of a very soft Brexit or no Brexit at all.

Pro-Leave Tories may also be more inclined to back the deal if the prime minister agrees to resign in the next few weeks and let a new leader handle the next stage of Brexit.

May is due to address Conservative MPs at 17:00 amid speculation about her future.

16:17: Labour hints at backing Norway-style Brexit

Leon Neal/Getty Images

Labour MPs will not be whipped to vote for “Common Market 2.0” tonight.

Under this “soft” form of Brexit, sometimes described as Norway-style, the UK would remain in the single market and form a close new customs relationship with the European Union.

Jeremy Corbyn will be voting for it and Labour MPs will be advised to do the same.

However, Labour’s Brexit spokesperson Sir Keir Starmer has just dropped a hint that the party could go further and whip its MPs to back it next week, when more indicative votes are set to take place.

Starmer said that while Common Market 2.0 isn’t Labour’s “preferred” Brexit plan, it is a “credible” option which would “deliver a close economic relationship with European Union” and “protect jobs.” In other words, it very similar to what Labour is proposing.

He adds that it should “remain an option” with more indicative votes set to take place next week.

Corbyn and his advisors have recently held constructive talks with MPs who back Common Market 2.0 and the latter believes that the Labour leader will soon whip for it.

16:00: Here are the whipping arrangements for tonight

Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn have decided how they will tell their MPs to vote on the various Brexit options this evening…

May has given Conservative MPs a free vote, meaning she does not expect to them to vote in a particular way on any of the options. The only exceptions to this are her Cabinet ministers, who have been told to abstain.

As for Corbyn, he has instructed Labour MPs to vote for his alternative Brexit plan, Margaret Beckett MP’s amendment calling for a referendum on whatever deal is agreed, and Ken Clarke’s push for the UK government to negotiate a permanent customs union with the EU.

Corbyn will also be voting for the Common Market 2.0 option and will “encourage” his MPs to do the same, his spokesperson told journalists on Wednesday.

Remember, the usual rule in Westminster politics is that any Cabinet or shadow Cabinet ministers who vote against their party whips are expected to resign.

We may well see some resignations this evening.

15:30: Bercow selects indicative vote options

House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow has just selected the Brexit options which MPs will debate and hold indicative votes on this evening. They are amendments:

B – Leave the EU without a deal

D – “Common Market 2.0”

H – Stay in the European Economic Area

J – Stay in a permanent customs union with the EU

K – Labour’s “alternative” Brexit plan

L – Revoke Article 50 if there is no deal agreed by Brexit day

M – A new referendum

O – Pursue a “managed” no-deal Brexit

Business Insider’s Adam Bienkov analyses how much support each option is likely to have.

19:15: Heavyweight Brexiteers declare support for May’s deal


Leading Brexiteers Boris Johnson and Iain Duncan Smith have both told pro-Leave colleagues that they will back Theresa May’s deal having previously opposed it.

Johnson has been a strong critic of the agreement, having called it “appalling, “woeful” and a “failure” among many other things, but has changed his mind in light of the prime minister’s announcement that she will step down once a deal is passed.

Dozens of Tory MPs who have voted against May’s deal have today switched to backing it.

However, the prime minister is still some way off getting her deal over the line, as things stand.

The Democratic Unionist Party is refusing to budge due its concerns about the backstop and there is still a number of pro-Brexit ERG MPs who haven’t moved.

There is also no sign of Labour MPs making the switch.

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