Rebel Tory MPs have joined forces with Labour to inflict a fresh blow on Theresa May's government in a Commons Brexit vote. It means the government will have to come up with fresh plans within three days if Mrs May's EU withdrawal deal is rejected by MPs next week. It could also open the door to alternatives, such as a referendum. The government lost by 11 votes, with 297 MPs voting with them and 308 against.
The government was expecting to have 21 days to come up with a "plan B" for Brexit if, as widely expected, Mrs May's deal is voted down. Labour's shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: "The government's decision to delay the meaningful vote has run down the clock and increased the risk of a no-deal Brexit.
"If the prime minister's Brexit deal is defeated next week, she must return to Parliament as soon as possible and give MPs a real say on what happens next." But Conservative Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said the defeat would not affect the UK's scheduled departure from the EU on 29 March. "It merely requires a motion to be tabled not even debated," he said.
It comes ahead of five days of debate on the PM's Brexit deal, which is getting under way with a speech from Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay. Commons Speaker John Bercow faced an angry backlash from some Conservative MPs over his decision to allow MPs to vote on the issue.