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A week like no other: How your MP voted on key Brexit motions

By Pete Madeley | Politics | Published:

It has been a week like no other in British political history.

See how MPs in the Black Country, Staffordshire and Shropshire voted

As the country's chances of leaving the EU on March 29 disappeared over the horizon, the House of Commons descended into an unprecedented level of chaos.

It was the week that saw a "new" Brexit deal appear that was remarkably similar to the old one; a 'no deal' Brexit ruled out by MPs – but not by law; and the Government desperately ordering Conservative MPs to vote against its own motion.

By the end of it Tory MPs were given a free rein to vote as they pleased, prompting one of them to opine that "collective responsibility had fallen off its horse and died".

It was, after all, the week of the Cheltenham festival.

Improved deal?

It started with the Prime Minister croaking about a new and improved Brexit deal, which turned out to be exactly the same as the one that was trounced by a record-breaking margin of 230 back in January.

Unsurprisingly it lost again, although the scale of the defeat was down to 149.

Then things really began to unravel.

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A Government motion to rule out 'no deal' was botched to such an extent that Mrs May ended up whipping her MPs into voting against it – resulting in mass confusion in the voting lobbies as MPs struggled to work out which side they were supposed to be backing.

Some just sacked it all off and went to the pub.

Delay

Then the House of Commons voted to delay Brexit – something which the main political parties have spent the last two and a half years insisting would never happen.

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With many MPs seemingly not knowing whether they were coming or going, it is hardly surprising there were a range of views expressed.

Of 24 MPs from constituencies across the Black Country, Staffordshire and Shropshire, only Mark Pritchard, the Conservative MP for The Wrekin, changed his mind on the meaningful vote.

He opposed Mrs May's deal in January, but reluctantly backed it this time over fears that the country could end up with no Brexit at all.

Walsall North's Eddie Hughes and Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski were among those to leave their decisions to the last minute, with Mr Hughes admitting he was still torn over which way to vote with less than half an hour to go before the division.

Both of them would eventually go against the deal, reasoning they could not support it due to assurances over the Irish backstop not being "watertight".

All of the region's Labour MPs opposed the deal in the meaningful vote, while the now independent and former Labour MP Ian Austin continued to "back his constituents" by supporting the deal.

Chaos

The vote to rule out a 'no deal' Brexit, a motion which the Government put forward but then opposed after it was amended to "permanently" rule out such an outcome.

To add to the state of disbelief, the West Midlands Tory MP who submitted the amendment, Caroline Spelman, tried to withdraw it under orders from the PM. However, the ever-helpful Speaker John Bercow rejected her plea.

The voting lobbies descended into turmoil. Stourbridge MP Margot James, who recently threatened to quit from her ministerial position unless 'no deal' was ruled out, abstained from the vote.

It was a move that under normal circumstances would result in her being sacked, but these are anything but normal times.

Remain-backing Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy - a major critic of 'no deal' - also abstained.

The vote to delay Brexit was even more bizarre. It was finally a genuine win for the Government, with the motion passing by a healthy majority of 211.

Yet with Conservative MPs given a free vote, 188 of them opposed it.

Still a Cabinet?

Among them were seven members of a Cabinet that barley appears to be functioning.

They included South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson, as well as Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay, who now heads to Brussels to negotiate the extension he voted against.

Incidentally, its worth recalling an answer Mr Barclay gave to Star reader Nelly in a Brexit Q&A session on December 10. Asked how confident he was on a scale of 0-10 that Britain would leave the EU on March 29, he said: “That’s a 10 Nelly! I’m entirely confident."

Aldridge-Brownhills MP Wendy Morton and Cannock Chase MP Amanda Milling – both assistant whips – also went against the Government. Even Chief Whip Julian Smith could not bring himself to support it.

Meanwhile an amendment calling for a second referendum was soundly thrashed after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn ordered his MPs to abstain.

Forty three Labour MPs turned a deaf ear, with 18 of them, including Warley MP John Spellar, voting against having another poll. Five shadow frontbenchers resigned after they disobeyed Mr Corbyn, who was later drowned out with jeers in the Commons when he attempted to reiterate Labour's support for referendum part two.

By the end of the week six of the region's MPs – Brexiteers' Owen Paterson, Sir Bill Cash, Mr Hughes, Lucy Allan, Mr Kawczynski and Michael Fabricant – had voted against every key motion put before them.

One day, a sense of normality may return to British politics. But don't expect it to be this coming week, when Mrs May is planning on going for third time lucky with yet another Commons vote on her deal.

God help us all.

Pete Madeley

By Pete Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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