Four Brexit options rejected, crucial Cabinet meeting looms
Updated 11:49, 02-Apr-2019
By John Goodrich
Four alternative Brexit options have failed to win majorities in Britain's parliament, with Prime Minister Theresa May set to hold a marathon five-hour Cabinet meeting on Tuesday to determine the government's way forward. 
The second round of indicative votes suggested a preference among MPs for a softer Brexit, but three of the options fell narrowly short of majorities and a fourth was heavily defeated. 
A proposal for a permanent customs union with the European Union lost by just three votes, while a plan for a referendum on any deal was defeated by 12 and the Common Market 2.0 approach went down by 21.

Indicative vote results

Customs union membership:  For 273, against 276, lost by three votes.

Common Market 2.0:  For 261, against 282, lost by 21 votes.

Public vote on any deal:  For 280, against 292, lost by 12 votes.

Parliamentary Supremacy:  For 191, against 292, lost by 101 votes.

Crunch meeting

A five-hour Cabinet meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, with the first three hours set to deal purely with Conservative Party – rather than government – business.
The divisions within Prime Minister Theresa May's top team are stark, and all members were ordered to abstain from Monday's indicative votes.
One faction is in favor of a no-deal exit on April 12, while another is expected to push for a customs union option to be added to May's withdrawal deal.
Prime Minister Theresa May leaves the House of Commons, London, April 1, 2019. /VCG Photo

Prime Minister Theresa May leaves the House of Commons, London, April 1, 2019. /VCG Photo

Chancellor Philip Hammond, according to The Times newspaper, will call for the government to put forward a compromise deal involving a customs union – the option defeated by just three votes on Monday – or put the issue back to the people via a referendum.
Before yesterday's indicative votes, the EU indicated Britain could leave the bloc on May 22 even if it pursued a customs union option.
May's deal is expected to be voted on for a fourth time in the coming days, and further indicative votes could be held on Wednesday.

Election footing?

The decision to hold a five-hour meeting has renewed speculation that May is preparing for a general election, and may even tie a fourth vote on her Brexit deal to a confidence vote in her government in order to force support from her MPs.
Recent polls have suggested the Conservatives are at best neck-and-neck with Labour, with a Deltapoll survey published on Sunday putting the opposition party five points ahead. There is thought to be strong resistance from within May's party to an election, particularly with the prime minister at the head of any campaign.
Steve Baker, a leading player in the European Research Group faction of the Conservatives, said he would vote to bring down the government rather than back May's deal. Another Brexiteer, Richard Drax, apologized in parliament for voting for May's agreement last week and called for a no-deal exit. 
A no-deal is now just 10 days away, and May will formally have to table a request for another delay to the EU by April 8 ahead of an emergency summit expected on April 10 if Britain is to avoid leaving the EU without agreed terms on April 12.

Indicative vote fallout

The inconclusive second round of indicative votes had immediate recriminations on Monday evening.
All options were broadly rejected by Conservative MPs and the Democratic Unionists, while proponents of a second referendum refused to back softer Brexit options.
Nick Boles, the Conservative MP behind the Common Market 2.0 plan, resigned from the party in the wake of the proposal's defeat.
Twitter Screenshot

Twitter Screenshot

"I have given everything to an attempt to find a compromise that can take this country out of the EU while maintaining our economic strength and our political cohesion," he told the House of Commons. "I accept I have failed. I have failed chiefly because my party refuses to compromise. I regret therefore to announce that I can no longer sit for this party.”
The defeat of the four options was greeted with glee by Brexiteers, who are now hopeful of running down the clock to a no-deal exit on April 12.