Theresa May dealt Brexit blow as Parliament seizes control
After an eventful night in the House of Commons, we're wrapping up our live coverage.
In case you haven't had enough of tonight's action, you can read our full report here.
As this phase of the Brexit process grinds towards its excruciating conclusion, mercifully, we might finally be about to learn what can command a majority among lawmakers in the House of Commons. And, in bad news for hard Brexiteers, it looks like their dream is dying.
On Monday night, Members of Parliament indicated to Theresa May that they want to wrestle Brexit out of the government’s hands and take control of the process.
This means indicative votes on Wednesday, in which the Commons will likely coalesce around a softer version of Brexit. If the diehard Brexiteers didn’t like May’s deal, they’re going to hate what could be about to come.
We already know that the majority of the Commons opposes a no-deal Brexit – something the Brexiteers see as a preferable alternative to May’s deal. These indicative votes will likely show us that a majority of MPs also favor closer ties to Europe as a way forward.
The EU is also committed to avoiding a no deal and getting this mess sorted. At last week’s EU Council summit, 27 European leaders agreed to the UK’s request to extend article 50. But it did so via a dual-track extension, which gives the UK wiggle room to prevent a cliff edge.
The EU’s so-called “flextension” allows the UK the option of delaying Brexit day until May 22, but on the condition that the PM’s deal gets approved this week. If it doesn’t, then it’s not the end of the world: the government will have until April 12 to tell the EU what it wants to do next.
At this point, it’s hard to see any option other than crashing into a no-deal scenario on April 12 or requesting a longer, possibly years-long extension. This would mean the UK remaining in the EU for an extended period and standing in European elections on May 23. And that option, already distasteful enough to Brexiteers, could also open a path to a second referendum and the possibility of Brexit being cancelled altogether.
With few options realistically available, hard Brexiteers need to think carefully.
Do they want to see MPs take control of Brexit and force through a version of Brexit they hate even more than May’s? Do they want to see Brexit delayed potentially for years?
Or can they hold their noses and, should May bring Meaningful Vote 3 back to the Commons this week, give her the nod she’s been waiting months for?
Theresa May’s wounded Brexit deal is gasping for life. But so too is the dream of a clean break with Europe.
A final point: with Parliament currently united only on the fact that it wants something other than May’s deal and neither main party having a working Parliamentary majority, things beyond Brexit look murky. Traditionally, the only way out of such a deadlock is some kind of public vote. We might be closer to a general election than many realize.
In one of the few light-hearted moments of Monday night's Parliamentary session, lawmakers took a moment after the key votes to sing Happy Birthday to fellow MP Jim Shannon.
"I'm sure in a cordial spirit colleagues across the house will want to congratulate the honorable gentleman the member for Strangford on his birthday," speaker John Bercow said.
Speaking after tonight's votes, Jeremy Corbyn congratulated Parliament for "taking control" of the Brexit process.
"The Government's approach has been an abject failure and this House must now find a solution," the Labour leader said.
"The Government must take this process seriously. We do not know what the House will decide on Wednesday. But I know there are many members of this House who have been working for alternative solutions, and we must debate those to find a consensus.
"Where this Government has failed, this House must, and I believe will, succeed," Corbyn said, adding that Parliament must also consider "whether any deal should be put to the people for a confirmatory vote."
The main motion has been approved by 327 votes to 300.
The result simply reinforces the Letwin amendment which allows lawmakers to hold a series of indicative votes on various alternative Brexit options this week.
Labour MP and Shadow Brexit Secretary has tweeted that tonight's result is "another humiliating defeat" for Theresa May "who has lost complete control of her party, her Cabinet and of the Brexit process."
"Parliament has fought back," he added, "and now has the chance to decide what happens next."
30 Conservative lawmakers defied orders from Prime Minister Theresa May, who whipped her party to vote against the plan to take control of the Brexit process away from the government.
The rebels included three government ministers, at least one of whom – Richard Harrington – tweeted his resignation letter as the amendment went to a vote.
Here's a breakdown of who voted for the Letwin amendment: 232 Labour, 30 Conservative, 34 SNP, 17 independents, 4 Plaid Cymru, 11 Liberal Democrats, 1 Green.