Theresa May dealt Brexit blow as Parliament seizes control

By Rob Picheta and Bianca Britton, CNN

Updated 1545 GMT (2345 HKT) March 26, 2019
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6:13 p.m. ET, March 25, 2019

BREAKING: British lawmakers seize control of Brexit process from government

Parliament has voted to allow lawmakers to hold a series of indicative votes on various alternative Brexit options.
Parliament has voted to allow lawmakers to hold a series of indicative votes on various alternative Brexit options. Parliament TV

MPs have defied the government and voted in favor of an amendment that gives them control of parliament's agenda this Wednesday. The passage of the Letwin amendment allows lawmakers to hold a series of indicative votes on various alternative Brexit options. 

Lawmakers could vote on as many as seven different options -- which might include a second referendum, crashing out with no deal and a Norway-style deal with the EU -- which would give the UK full access to the single market and the European Free Trade area. The votes are non-binding. 

6:04 p.m. ET, March 25, 2019

Labour party withdraws its amendment

An amendment which was tabled by the UK's main opposition party, calling for the government to set out time for MPs to debate and find a majority for an alternative Brexit plan, has been withdrawn.

That means parliament will only vote on two amendments this evening.

5:58 p.m. ET, March 25, 2019

HAPPENING NOW: Vote on amendment seeking to seize control of Brexit from government

MPs are now voting on a cross-party amendment, backed by Conservative remainers Oliver Letwin and Dominic Grieve and Labour's Hilary Benn, which calls for a series of votes on alternative Brexit plans to take place on Wednesday. The amendment would essentially allow lawmakers to seize control of the Brexit process.

Results are expected in under 15 minutes.

5:55 p.m. ET, March 25, 2019

Anna Soubry makes powerful statement after facing harassment by pro-Brexit protesters

Anna Soubry, who recently left the Conservative party to join a breakaway cross-party bloc known as the Independent Group, has told parliament that lawmakers must take control of the Brexit process to "heal the huge divisions that this ghastly Brexit has created."

Anna Soubry says that lawmakers must take control of the Brexit process.
Anna Soubry says that lawmakers must take control of the Brexit process. Parliament TV

In a powerful speech, Soubry -- who has been at the receiving end of abuse by vocal pro-Brexit protesters -- said that she doesn't care what it costs her and that she will continue to put the UK and her constituents first.

"If that means I can’t go home on the weekend because of death threats, if that means I have get a taxi in order to do a 10-minute walk, if that means I have to be frightened of my wellbeing, and my partners and my children -- I feel sorry for them, and that can't be right -- but this is the biggest decision that this country has made since the Second World War and we come to this place to represent our constituents and do the right thing about our country.
"It isn't about us. It’s not about your party. It is about doing the right thing and in this instance the right thing is to get this back to the British people."

It comes after British MPs were advised to take taxis home last week, over fears that they could be attacked by members of the public over the handling of Brexit.

5:26 p.m. ET, March 25, 2019

MPs play the broken Brexit record in Parliament

Analysis by Luke McGee, CNN

One of the stranger elements of today is how much of a broken record the House of Commons sounds.

The UK political class has, throughout the entire Brexit process, become very good at debating exclusively with itself, seemingly unaware that people in Brussels – and across Europe – are paying attention to their Brexit delusions.

Some have held strong to the idea that at the last minute the EU would blink and offer the UK the deal of a lifetime. Others have believed that the EU would take control of the process, effectively willing Brussels to interfere in the UK's domestic politics.

Last week, the EU gave absolute clarity on its position: it wants to avoid a no deal, but the UK's destiny really is in the UK's hands. Now is the time for the House of Commons to come up with something.

Given the sense of urgency, it's nothing short of extraordinary that, once again, we have listened to MPs talk for hours about the same old stuff.

4:51 p.m. ET, March 25, 2019

Brexit has "sucked the lifeblood out of the government," Conservative MP says

Conservative MP Nicholas Soames told parliament that Brexit has "degraded" the UK's reputation, adding that it had "gradually sucked the lifeblood out of the government."

"It grieves me very much to see our influence abroad ... being so degraded as allies and partners who are close friends watch from afar and with dismay as we burn up our reservoirs of goodwill and our reputation for common sense, most especially in the EU," Soames told the House of Commons.
4:43 p.m. ET, March 25, 2019

Parliament "must seize control" tonight, SNP lawmaker says

Scottish National Party Foreign Affairs and Europe spokesman Stephen Gethins has told the House of Commons that it "must seize control" of the Brexit process tonight in order to hold indicative votes and "start to find a way out of this mess."

"The government has run out of options and run out of ideas and we need to step up," Gethins said.

"It's not a farce, it's a tragedy and a tragedy that's taking us all down with it."

He said that Theresa May's government has "failed spectacularly."

"I wouldn't let this lot anywhere near the TV remote in my house, never mind the most important decision that we have to make for generations," Gethins quipped.

4:17 p.m. ET, March 25, 2019

Letwin says his amendment is not a "constitutional revolution"

Conservative MP Oliver Letwin, who's backing the amendment which seeks to take control of the Brexit process from the government, has told the House of Commons his amendment has to be pressed to a vote because it would allow parliament to end the impasse.

"It is not some kind of constitutional revolution," he told parliament.

"It is an opportunity for the House of Commons to begin -- and I want to stress the word begin -- the process of working its way towards identifying a way forward that can command a majority in this House." 

Conservative MP Oliver Letwin.
Conservative MP Oliver Letwin.  TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images

3:04 p.m. ET, March 25, 2019

Lidington hopes for third meaningful vote this week, says May will make time for alternatives

Theresa May's de facto deputy has told parliament that he hopes lawmakers will have the opportunity to vote on her Brexit deal again this week.

He said May's deal was "in the interests of the UK" and one that "both those who supported leave and those who voted remain should be able to rally behind."

Lidington also told the House of Commons that the government would provide time for MPs to debate alternative ways forward on Brexit if they reject Oliver Letwin's amendment tonight, which calls for a series of indicative votes.

Letwin asked Lidington if the government intended to "operate exactly the same principals" set out in the amendment.

However, Lidington said he couldn't "give a commitment immediately for that level of detail."