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Theresa May whittled down the number of Conservative MPs prepared to vote against her Brexit deal on Friday, but she underestimated the intransigence of hard-core Eurosceptics in her own party. The vote saw , with 344 against and 4 abstaining. This left .
The prime minister was resigned to the fact that there would be no formal support for her withdrawal agreement from the Labour party, the Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats, the Independent Group (renamed Change UK) or the Green Party.
But she had hoped to win round the Democratic Unionist Party, whose 10 MPs have propped up her government since 2017. Instead they unanimously voted down the deal once again.
How MPs voted on the Brexit exit deal
Mrs May’s hopes of attracting the support of Labour MPs in Leave-voting constituencies with inducements, such as extra funding and changes to employment law, were also dashed: for the agreement.
The number of Tory rebels has gradually fallen from 115 in the first meaningful vote on her deal in January, to 75 in mid-March and 34 on Friday.
The most high-profile in the last fortnight include some Conservative party heavyweights, such as former party leader Iain Duncan Smith, one-time Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and - in the most eye-catching U-turn of all - Boris Johnson, who quit as foreign secretary last summer. Jacob Rees-Mogg, chair of the anti-EU European Research Group (ERG) also fell behind the deal, albeit with visible reluctance.
Some of these prominent figures have grown increasingly alarmed that there could be a long delay to Brexit or that it might not happen at all.
The remaining 34 diehard naysayers - who believe Mrs May’s deal leaves Britain tied too closely to the EU - were mostly made up of other ERG figures, including Bernard Jenkin, Owen Paterson, Steve Baker and Theresa Villiers. Mr Jenkin said he would rather push for a long extension than endure the prime minister’s deal, which gave the EU “draconian” control over Britain. Mr Baker said the deal was “finished” at last, and concluded: “We must move on.”
But there were also half a dozen Europhile Tory MPs who rebelled because they want a second referendum instead. They include Jo Johnson, Justine Greening, Sam Gyimah, Phillip Lee and Dominic Grieve.
In recent months there have been several dozen Labour MPs in Leave seats - mostly in northern England and the Midlands - agonising about whether to back the deal.
However, many of them would only support the Tory government if they feared that Britain was on the brink of a no-deal Brexit. As a result just five Labour MPs supported the agreement: John Mann, Rosie Cooper, Kevin Barron, Jim Fitzpatrick and Caroline Flint. Another two, Dennis Skinner and Ronnie Campbell, abstained. Some of those who supported the government are now likely to face a backlash from grassroots campaigners, with the threat of deselection on the horizon.
One reason that more Labour MPs did not fall into line was that a proposed amendment from Gareth Snell, Labour MP for Stoke, pushing for Parliament to have greater control of the next phase of Brexit negotiations, was not selected by the Speaker, John Bercow. That decision removed a potential bridge between Labour MPs and Downing Street.
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* Abstentions exclude seven Sinn Féin MPs, division tellers, the Speaker and his three deputies. Paul Flynn, who passed away in February 2019, is also excluded.