Update: Sir Edward speaks out on Brexit indicative votes
The indicative votes process was a means of ‘testing the will of the House of Commons’ with regards to different approaches on how to break the Brexit deadlock, after Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed deal was heavily defeated twice.
The options ranged from leaving the EU without a deal, holding a further referendum, and even revoking Article 50 and stopping Brexit.
Other options put forward last night included the Labour Party’s proposal (remaining in a customs union and having a ‘close alignment’ with the EU single market), and an option for ‘contingent preferential arrangements’ (which calls for the Government to seek to agree preferential trade arrangements with the EU, in case the UK is unable to implement a Withdrawal Agreement with the bloc).
Sir Edward supported two of the options on the table:
1) An option calling for the UK to leave the EU without a deal on April 12.
2) An option calling for the Government to seek to agree preferential trade arrangements with the EU, in case the UK is unable to implement a Withdrawal Agreement.
Both of these alternatives were roundly defeated, with only 160 and 139 MPs supporting each option respectively.
Sir Edward actively voted against the six other options, including those for a ‘confirmatory public vote’ (referendum) and revoking Article 50.
This afternoon (Thursday), Sir Edward Leigh said: “My absolute priority is to implement the referendum result and get this country out of the EU.
“No Deal is very tempting and I believe it would be perfectly manageable under WTO rules and with a few useful bilateral agreements.
“But in order for it to happen, it requires a majority of MPs to back it.
“One of the most important rules in politics is know how to count. There simply aren’t enough MPs who would be willing to back No Deal, which means it’s not an option on the table.
“Meanwhile we have a deal on offer. It’s a compromise of course, but it delivers on two absolute essentials: ending our membership in the EU and immediately taking back control of our borders.
“My fear is that pro-Remain MPs will combined to keep us stuck in a permanent customs union.
“The best way to avoid this worst-of-both-worlds situation is [supporting the deal].”