Theresa May’s week just got a little less bad. This evening the Government managed to successfully defeat a string of amendments seeking to soften Brexit. A cross-party amendment – tabled by Hilary Benn – to seize control of the Commons next week and hold indicative votes next Wednesday failed. It was defeated by just two votes. Chief Whip Julian Smith could be seen celebrating with a fist bump with fellow whip Chris Pincher.
The Government motion to seek an Article 50 extension and delay Brexit passed comfortably. Given that this is a vote Theresa May was forced into giving and one that divides the Conservative party, this result is in no way a Government victory. MPs were given a free vote on the issue and a string of Cabinet Ministers used that to vote against the Government.
However, the overwhelming feeling in Government this evening is one of relief. With not one defeat, the Government can be described as functioning on some level. That’s not a particularly high bar but given how things looked last night when May lost control of her ministers and MPs, it’s an improvement.
Helping matters is the fact there is increased optimism in Government that there is a chance May’s deal could pass next week when it is put to a vote ahead of the EU summit. While things still look very difficult for the government, they have not got any worse as a result of tonight’s votes – in this current climate, that’s an achievement.