Labour’s official Brexit amendment laying out its own negotiating objectives was rejected by MPs tonight, as expected, with 323 votes against and just 240 in favour.
Its defeat has been interpreted by some as the start of Labour turning to focus on backing another EU referendum, but senior figures have made clear that the party will also continue to campaign for its alternative Brexit plan.
Jeremy Corbyn confirmed this in his reaction to the results, saying: “We will back a public vote in order to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit or a disastrous no deal outcome.
“We will also continue to push for the other available options to prevent those outcomes, including a close economic relationship based on our credible alternative plan or a general election.”
The size of the defeat increased from 31 votes in January to 83 votes tonight, as more Labour MPs were absent from the vote.
Stephen Hepburn was the only Labour MP to vote against the Labour amendment, while five Labour Brexiteers abstained. All members of The Independent Group abstained.
Although 12 amendments were tabled to the government’s motion, only five were selected and three of those were accepted by the government today.
The SNP amendment, which expressed opposition to ‘no deal’ and had Labour’s support, was rejected by 36 votes. Seven Labour MPs voted against and a further 11 abstained.
The amendment sponsored primarily by Caroline Spelman and Jack Dromey, which would have made time for Yvette Cooper’s bill, was not moved on the basis that the Prime Minister has committed to offering a vote on extending Article 50.
The citizens’ rights amendment by Alberto Costa was accepted by the government and unanimously approved without a division being called. But Costa was apparently forced to resign as a parliamentary parliamentary private secretary in order to table it.
Yvette Cooper’s amendment, which simply restated the commitments made by the Prime Minister yesterday to give MPs a say on ‘no deal’ and delaying Brexit, passed with just 20 votes against. No Labour MPs voted against, but eight abstained.
Amendment vote results
Ayes 240 – Noes 323
Ayes 288 – Noes 324
c) Spelman/Dromey a.k.a. Cooper/Letwin
Accepted by government, approved without a division.
Ayes 502 – Noes 20
Accepted by government, but 20 Tories voted against.
1 voted against the Labour amendment: Stephen Hepburn.
5 abstained on the Labour amendment: Kevin Barron, Ronnie Campbell, Kate Hoey, John Mann, Graham Stringer.
7 voted against the SNP amendment: Kevin Barron, Jim Fitzpatrick, Caroline Flint, Stephen Hepburn, Kate Hoey, John Mann, Graham Stringer.
11 abstained on the SNP amendment: Ronnie Campbell, Jon Cruddas, Helen Goodman, Kevan Jones, Grahame Morris, Lisa Nandy, Ruth Smeeth, Gareth Snell, John Spellar, Stephen Timms, Derek Twigg.
0 voted against the Cooper amendment: None.
8 abstained on the Cooper amendment: Ronnie Campbell, Gill Furniss, Stephen Hepburn, Kate Hoey, Emma Lewell-Buck, John Mann, Grahame Morris, Graham Stringer.