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Brexit Central reports 66 Tories Abstain as MPs Defeat Government on Brexit Strategy Motion.

The House of Commons has defeated by 303 votes to 258 – a majority of 45 – a Government motion reiterating support for the approach to Brexit expressed by the Commons on 29th January after dozens of Conservative MPs refused to back an effective endorsement of taking the no-deal option off the table.

Tory MPs from the European Research Group were unhappy with the motion, which Steve Baker explained should have been pulled and replaced with “a neutral motion and the adoption of Malthouse Compromise… around which there is a majority”. The ERG Deputy Chairman later described the events as a “storm in a teacup” and pointed out that the Prime Minister has a mandate from the previous vote on the Brady amendment.

It is also worth noting that beforehand 41 Labour MPs, along with two Conservative MPs, defied their whips to abstain on and oppose respectively an SNP amendment seeking an extension to the Article 50 period of at least three months.

Malthouse Compromise Again

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No's Have It

May Defeated Again

The Guardian reports Theresa May Defeated on Brexit Again as ERG Tories Abstain.

The defeat marks the end of a temporary truce over Brexit among Conservative MPs, who had voted last month in favour of May’s strategy if she could obtain some concessions from Brussels on the issue of the Northern Ireland backstop.

The prime minister was not present for the House of Commons defeat, by 303 votes to 258, in which she again lost control of her party in the crucial final weeks before Britain is due to leave the EU on 29 March.

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The vote is not binding but it appeared to be a show of strength by around 60 MPs in the ERG, which included Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary; Dominic Raab, the former Brexit secretary; and Steve Baker, the former Brexit minister. A small number of pro-EU MPs also refused to back the motion.

Senior figures in the ERG used the result to increase pressure on the government to adopt the so-called Malthouse compromise – a proposal to use unspecified technology to avoid customs checks at the Irish border – which the EU appears likely to reject. Many in the ERG would be equally happy to see a no-deal Brexit.

No 10 played down the significance of the vote and insisted that May understood the concerns of the ERG. However, that appeared only to infuriate many remain-supporting Tories who are determined to block a no-deal Brexit.

May Refuses the Logical Thing

The logical thing to do, which DUP, most of the Tories, and some in Labour could support is pass an amendment in support of the Malthouse Compromise.

The EU calls it a unicorn, but it is no such thing. Malthouse keeps the UK in a customs union for two more years after which the UK leaves. This would give everyone time to work out a trade agreement as well as come up with a better solution for the backstop.

In the meantime, the UK would keep paying into EU coffers.

Take It or Leave It

In effect, the UK would be giving the EU its own take it or leave it proposal. If the EU refused, it would get no money at all.

And bear in mind, the EU is already in recession (See Eurozone Recession: Right Here, Right Now!)

German exports to the UK would collapse on the spot.

May has zero negotiation skills. The EU runs circles around her.

There will however, be a chance for the UK parliament to do just what I said. It won't be binding, but realistically May will have no alternative choice.

The best choice is to request a three month extension and leave, but DUP cannot accept that. The best passable choice for which there is a UK majority is the Malthouse Compromise.

If May did as suggested, I believe we would find that unicorns do exist. If not, all the better.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock