Wales politics

Brexit deal only option after alternatives rejected, claims Tory MP

Parliament Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption MPs rejected eight different Brexit options on Wednesday

The only course of action for MPs after they rejected a range of alternatives to Theresa May's Brexit deal is to pass the agreement, a Welsh Tory MP said.

David Davies said the exercise showed there was no support for other options.

On Wednesday night MPs rejected eight proposals, including calls for a customs union with the EU and for a further referendum.

Ex-Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb put the chances of the PM's deal passing by the end of this week at less than 50%.

Brexit: What happens now?

Mr Crabb was speaking before it was announced the Commons would vote on the EU withdrawal agreement on Friday, in a fresh bid to break Brexit deadlock, but would not vote on the further "political declaration".

The legally binding withdrawal agreement sets out how much money the UK must pay to the EU as a settlement, details of the transition period, citizens rights and "backstop arrangements" to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

The political declaration is a framework for how the future EU-UK relationship will work.

If MPs back it the withdrawal agreement on Friday, the government says the UK will leave the EU on 22 May.

Wednesday night's Commons votes on Brexit alternatives came on a day when the Mrs May told Conservative MPs she would step down if her deal is backed.

Two Welsh Conservative MPs, who have voted against it twice, told BBC Wales that the prime minister's move would still not be enough for them to support the agreement if a third vote is held.

Calls for a customs union with the EU were rejected by 272 to 264 votes, while a call for a referendum to endorse any deal was rejected by 295 to 268 votes.

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David Davies, Monmouth Conservative MP and a leave campaigner during the 2016 referendum, has backed the prime minister's deal in the Commons.

He said Wednesday's exercise shows "that the only course of action is to take the deal. There is no support for any alternative."

"All Brexiteers need to understand this is the only game in town," he said.

The deal is the "only chance we've got of getting out of the European Union," Mr Davies added.

Preseli Pembrokeshire Conservative MP Mr Crabb is backing Mrs May's deal as a "clear legal way to leave the EU".

But he told BBC Radio Wales Brexit had been "handled so badly, I'm giving it a less than 50% chance of getting through by the end of the week".

Image caption Liz Saville Roberts said a further referendum had "the highest vote of anything"

Plaid Cymru's Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts said a further referendum "had the highest vote of anything if you look at it positively, rather than the negatives".

Speaking on the BBC Wales Live programme, she said support in the Commons for a new public vote was "higher than the votes the prime minister had on her deal in the past".

Ms Saville Roberts added that while the offer of standing down may win Mrs May the backing of some Tories, "it may well lose her some of the Labour support that she had, who now see the deal that she offered fading away".

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said the result of the vote was "disappointing... but not surprising".

Labour frontbencher Nia Griffith said Wednesday's votes were "only really the beginning of the process".

"We need to clearly sit down and try to get the best possible system forward that can open the discussion further," the shadow defence secretary said.

Image caption David Jones said he had heard nothing to cause him to change his mind

Theresa May has twice failed to get her Brexit deal through the House of Commons, with large numbers of Conservative MPs voting against it.

On Wednesday night the DUP said it will still not back the withdrawal agreement.

The prime minister told MPs of her intention to quit if the deal passes at the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs.

Simon Hart, Conservative MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, said the mood in the meeting was "respectful" as the prime minister set out her plan.

He told the BBC News Channel Mrs May's promise to stand down, and "other things" happening, will change people's minds on her deal. He claimed the passing of the withdrawal agreement was "edging closer" .

But former Brexit minister David Jones said: "I have voted against the withdrawal agreement twice because it is contrary to the national interest.

"The agreement remains unchanged and I have heard nothing to cause me to change my mind."

Image caption Guto Bebb: "The future relationship is going to be negotiated by somebody else and we do not know who"

Aberconwy MP Guto Bebb said: "We are now being asked to vote for a divorce agreement organised and negotiated by the prime minister but the future relationship is going to be negotiated by somebody else and we do not know who.

"I personally think that that makes the agreement even more unattractive."

Both Mr Bebb and Mr Jones had opposed the Brexit deal, but for very different reasons.

Mr Bebb wants to see a closer relationship with the European Union and a further referendum, while Mr Jones has concerns the UK would remain too closely tied to the bloc.

The remaining six Welsh Tory MPs have voted for the deal.

Remain-voting Labour MPs were scathing of the PM's announcement.

Cardiff Central MP Jo Stevens said it was the "ultimate bribe from the PM to her MPs to save the Tory party".

"This has nothing to do with the national interest," she said, with Rhondda MP Chris Bryant calling it "partisan and private advantage masquerading as principle".

Conservative Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said Mrs May had "tried to bring together different strengths of view on either side of the party and either side of the country".

"I think it's an example where she's putting the country before herself again, as she always has," he said.

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price called the move one of the "strangest political strategies ever by an incumbent head of government".

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