So, the meaningful vote has been rejected by a majority of 149 MPs. Why did this happen and where do we go from here?
Well, firstly, many MPs didn’t think that the deal changed enough since the last time we had the meaningful vote. At around midday, the Attorney General said that the risk of the UK remaining “indefinitely” in the backstop remain even if the risk has been “reduced”. This has, in turn, caused the DUP (the small Northern Irish party that have previously agreed to support the Conservativies) and the ERG (a small faction within the Conservatives Party led by Jacob Rees-Mogg) to claim that they would not support the deal. Although the DUP have said they would actively vote against the deal, some sources suggested that the ERG may simply abstain. These two groups are undoubtedly part of the reason why today’s meaningful vote has been unsuccessful.
In regard to the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn has claimed that “not one single word has changed”. Clearly he, and most likely other colleagues of his, were hoping for some more major changes on the backstop issue. This may also have contributed to the defeat, as many MPs didn’t see the deal as being different enough from the last deal that they rejected just over a month ago.
Irrespective of why it has been rejected, the main question is: what now?
Well, technically speaking there is simply another vote tomorrow on whether or parliament agrees to the UK leaving without a deal. If this is also rejected, then on Thursday there is a vote on whether or not to apply for an extension from the EU – which could see us take part in European Union elections in May.
Although this is what’s scheduled to happen, there is a lot more speculation over what will actually happen. The issue is that now the deal has been voted down, Theresa May’s government’s authority is seriously in question. Theresa May and her team have spent years negotiating this deal, and their failure, for many, shows that she no longer has the ability to govern and to pass legislation. This is the argument made by Charles Walker, the Vice Chairman of the 1922 committee. The Hansard Society has claimed that if a general election were to be called, the date would be on Thursday 25th April 2019. The political correspondent for Sky News agrees, claiming that the earliest date for a general election would be “25th April/2nd May”.
Downing Street has, however, said that they do not want a general election. Provided there are enough MPs that do want a general election, it may not be up to them.
Others have said that there could be another ‘meaningful vote’. The political correspondent for Huffington Post has claimed that there could be another meaningful vote next week, or maybe later after an EU summit.