Sack Brexit abstaining ministers, says Welsh Tory MP

Image caption,
David TC Davies said ministers who abstained should not be in government

Tory ministers who abstained on a vote opposing leaving the European Union without a deal should resign or be sacked, a Brexiteer MP has told BBC Wales.

Thirteen government ministers defied whips by abstaining on the vote on Wednesday night.

David Davies said the MPs should not be in government.

MPs rejected leaving the EU without a deal 321 votes to 278, in a further government defeat on Brexit.

MPs are voting on Wednesday on whether they want to delay Brexit until 30 June to allow legislation to pass parliament, but that is only if MPs back Mrs May's deal by 20 March.

Theresa May has warned MPs if they fail to back her deal, the delay could be longer.

Amendments on stopping a further vote on a Brexit deal, and other proposals including holding a series of votes to find a consensus, have failed to pass.

On Wednesday Prime Minister Theresa May had tabled a motion opposing leaving the EU without a deal, but only on the 29 March.

This was amended against the government's wishes to be stronger - opposing no-deal in all circumstances.

As things stand the UK is still due to leave the EU by law on 29 March unless Article 50 is withdrawn or extended - the vote does not change that.

The Commons has voted twice against Theresa May's EU withdrawal agreement.

Image caption,
"All of this just reminds me of the Muppets", said Chris Bryant

Speaking in the Commons, Brexiteer and Welsh Conservative, David Jones said people would be watching events with "a mixture of despair and revulsion".

The Clwyd West MP said people had voted for Brexit but the "political class" were "content with reneging" on it and these moves were "completely destroying an already fragile trust" in politicians.

It is expected that the UK government will make a third attempt next week.

Chris Bryant, Labour Rhondda MP, tabled an amendment calling for the government to stop reintroducing a vote on the deal.

"All of this just reminds me of the Muppets," he said.

Quoting the song the Windmills of Your Mind, which featured in the television show, he said: "We are like a circle and a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel, never ending or beginning on an ever spinning wheel.

"Every two weeks we come around on a merry go around, make the same speech all over again, and still ride our own hobby horses.

"Frankly it's not doing us any good."

Image caption,
David Jones said the political class were destroying trust with the public

Seven Welsh Labour MPs Tonia Antoniazzi, Ann Clwyd, Geraint Davies, Anna McMorrin, Albert Owen, Owen Smith and Jo Stephens broke the Labour whip by voting for a second referendum.

Labour had whipped its MPs to abstain. The amendment failed to pass.

Ms McMorrin said: "I think it's really important to do and follow through what you believe in."

David Davies, a Welsh Brexit campaigner and Conservative MP for Monmouth, said: "I'm very concerned at the way at which she's [Theresa May] been undermined by members of her cabinet.

"If these cabinet members have abstained on a whipped vote they should not be in government.

"They should resign, or be sacked."

He derided Wednesday night's vote as a victory for politicians who want to remain in the EU.

"This is not about getting an extension," he said. "It's about stopping Brexit from happening."

Image caption,
David Mundell was among the cabinet ministers who abstained on the vote

Among those who abstained and did not take part in Wednesday's final no deal vote were Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, Business Secretary Greg Clark, Justice Secretary David Gauke and Scottish Secretary David Mundell.

Work and pensions minister Sarah Newton voted against the orders of the whips and has now resigned.

BBC political editor Laura Kunessberg said that, according to a cabinet source, ministers were told it was OK to abstain despite a three line whip.

Simon Hart, Tory MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, said he was not "entirely surprised" by Wednesday's vote.

"Parliament has had enough and voted to, essentially I think, put Brexit in considerable jeopardy," Mr Hart said.

"It's Theresa May versus the world."

He said he would be happy to vote for an extension to Brexit on Thursday but he said it would be hard to back something open ended, "crossing our fingers and hope something might crop up".

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Theresa May has suffered repeated defeats in the House of Commons

Glyn Davies, Tory MP for Montgomeryshire, said: "The government is going to have to accept that parliament is going to have a say, and that's a pretty big step I think."

Labour and Plaid MPs were among those who voted against a no-deal Brexit on Wednesday night.

Most Welsh Tory MPs - Chris Davies, David TC Davies, Glyn Davies, Simon Hart, David Jones and Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns - voted against the no-deal motion.

Guto Bebb voted for it, while Stephen Crabb abstained.

Welsh Labour leader and first minister Mark Drakeford said: "Parliament has taken a step in the right direction but we still face the danger of stumbling out of the EU without a deal on March 29.

"MPs must now instruct the government to seek extension of Article 50 and test the views of the Commons on the best way forward.

"This does not need to be a long extension."

Image caption,
"It is Theresa May versus the world," Simon Hart said

Labour MPs welcomed the result. Cardiff North's Anna McMorrin said: "We have twice rejected the prime minister's bad deal and have now decisively ruled out no deal. But still the prime minister will not listen."

Calling for a further referendum, she added: "The only way forward now is to seek a compromise position across the House and put that back to the people."

Labour MP for Caerphilly Wayne David said the government was "a disgraceful shambles".

He said: "Theresa May is now deliberately seeking to undermine and circumvent Parliament."

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Andrew RT Davies, former Welsh Conservative assembly leader, called for a general election.

He called the House of Commons "completely dysfunctional" and said the "only way to sort it out is for a new parliament to be convened".

UKIP AM Neil Hamilton said: "The result of this evening's (non-binding) vote does nothing but remind voters of the total disconnect from the political class and the people they were elected to serve."

But Plaid Cymru said the prime minister must not "now attempt to manufacture another cliff edge in a few months' time".

Liz Saville Roberts, Plaid's Westminster leader, said: "We need a substantial extension, with a clear commitment to compromise."