Peterborough MPs Fiona Onasanya and Shailesh Vara vote against EU Withdrawal Agreement in historic Parliament vote

Peterborough’s MPs both voted against the Government’s EU Withdrawal Agreement which was defeated in an historic vote in Parliament tonight (Tuesday, January 15).

Tuesday, 15th January 2019, 6:58 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 5:10 pm

Fiona Onasanya and Shailesh Vara helped defeat the Brexit deal by a record breaking 230 votes.

The Government now has until January 21 to set out a Plan B - expected to involve going back to Brussels to seek further concessions - with the clock ticking on the scheduled date of Brexit in just 73 days’ time on March 29 .

In a statement immediately after her drubbing by 230 votes, Mrs May said: “The House has spoken and this Government will listen.”

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Shailesh Vara and Fiona Onasanya

She offered cross-party talks with MPs across the House to determine a way forward.

This was the first time MP for Peterborough Fiona Onasanya has voted since being convicted for perverting the course of justice at the Old Bailey in December.

Ms Onasanya, who is currently awaiting sentencing, had failed to vote in Parliament since her conviction in December at the Old Bailey, including on two amendments relating to Brexit last week.

She wrote in her Peterborough Telegraph column last week: “There is no possible way I could vote for this botched Brexit deal in good faith.

“This is a government that has crossed the red lines it set itself months ago. After years of negotiations, all the Government have to show for it is a deal that keeps Britain as rule-takers, not rule-makers.

“While the Prime Minister will try and maintain the illusion that this deal takes back control, the reality is that she knows her Government has faltered on the world stage.”

She added: “I’ve always said the question is how we leave the EU, not if.

“I respect the result, but I have grave concerns that for as long as this Government remains in power, this dangerous impasse will continue to keep British politics and the Brexit process gridlocked.”

The MP was expelled by the Labour the day after her conviction and is currently sitting as an independent in the House of Commons.

She has consistently refused to answer questions from the PT about her conviction and her failure to vote on the amendments last week.

North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara resigned as Northern Ireland minister in opposition to the deal.

Mr Vara voted Remain in the referendum but has promised to support Brexit and has repeatedly stated that Britain has nothing to fear about a no deal situation, with trading on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms.

He said after the vote: “This is an historic vote. It’s also a decisive vote and a powerful message to Brussels that the deal they have offered to the UK is completely unacceptable.

“There’s much in the agreement that I disagree with, but I recognise in international agreement there needs to be compromise. But Brussels needs to appreciate that the unending backstop does need to be looked at again.

“I very much hope that the size of the vote against the withdrawal agreement will encourage Brussels to open up negotiations even at this late stage so we can reach an agreement which is fair and acceptable to both sides.”

Brexit Secretary and North East Cambridgeshire MP Steve Barclay, who represents Fenland, voted with the Government.

Grantham and Stamford MP Nick Boles was made headlines in the run-up the vote after he was revealed as one of three MPs pushing to let a powerful group of MPs come up with an alternative Brexit plan if the Government could not get a Plan B through Parliament.

He voted in favour of the withdrawal agreement, as did Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly who said deal meets the Conservative’s manifesto commitments.

Both Mr Boles and Mr Djanogly had voted against the Government in recent amendments designed to prevent a no deal Brexit.

Mr Djanogly tweeted: “Govt defeat so substantial that now it must be Plan B and that’s going to require cross Party Agreement. The Brexiteer WTO dream is now confined to the dustbin of history.”

Mr Boles tweeted: “I voted for the PM’s deal tonight and will of course back her in tomorrow’s confidence vote. But be in no doubt that she is the architect of tonight’s defeat.

“She has approached the Brexit negotiation as if she commanded a majority of 150 in the Commons. She has conducted the argument as if this was a party political matter rather than a question of profound national importance of legitimate concern to all MPs.

“This must now change. She will not be able to rescue her Brexit deal by tweaking the backstop or offering concessions to hardline Brexiters.

“Instead she must work with opposition MPs to redraw the Political Declaration on our Future Relationship so that it promises a soft Brexit like that offered by Common Market 2.0 - or what Michel Barnier calls Norway Plus.

“The Prime Minister has tried to dictate terms to Parliament. She must now accept that Parliament will set the terms of Brexit and it is her job as head of government to deliver them.”

South Holland and The Deepings MP John Hayes and Corby and East Northamptonshire MP Tom Pursglove both voted against the deal.

Mr Pursglove resigned as a Conservative vice chair to vote against the Government.

All of the MPs mentioned are Conservatives apart from Ms Onasanya.

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