MPs will take control of Brexit if May’s deal is voted down

Peter Macdiarmid / GettyTory MP and former Attorney General Dominic Grieve

In yet another blow to Theresa May’s Brexit plans, MPs voted on Tuesday in favour of getting a “meaningful vote” if the Prime Minister’s proposals are voted down.

MPs voted 321 to 299 in support on an amendment by Dominic Grieve, a Conservative MP. The amendment gives MPs the power to instruct the government what action to take if May’s Brexit deal is, as expected, voted down in Parliament.

In practice, it means that should Parliament refuse to accept the prime minister’s deal, MPs could instruct her to extend negotiations, hold another referendum, or pursue a different sort of Brexit like a softer, Norway-style exit.

The amendment isn’t legally binding – but it carries huge political weight and would be very difficult for the government to ignore.

The vote comes immediately after MPs voted to find Theresa May’s government in contempt of parliament over its failure to publish its legal advice on the Brexit deal. The vote, 311-293, is the first time in history Parliament has held a government in contempt.

26 Conservative MPs ultimately voted for Grieve’s amendment, further evidence on ongoing discontent in Tory ranks over Brexit.^tfw

In advance of the vote, Brexit minister Steve Baker stressed that it would not be legally binding. “Whatever the outcome of the amendment, it is not legally binding on the PM,” he tweeted. “Acts are law, motions are motions. The executive still decides how to proceed.”

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