Theresa May stood almost voiceless at the dispatch box and began a weary address. She explained: “This is about the choices that this House faces. The legal default in UK and EU law remains that the UK will leave the EU without a deal unless something else is agreed.
“The onus is now on every one of us in this House to find out what that is.
“The options before us are there same as they always have been.
“We could leave with the deal which this government has negotiated for the past two years.
“We could leave with the deal we have negotiated but subject to a second referendum, but that would risk no Brexit at all-”
Stunningly, at this point, the Commons roared with overwhelming delight.
The reaction to reversing Brexit was almost deafening, signifying that the Remain-dominated parliament had never been invested in actualising the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
Against the clamour, Theresa May continued: “…Damaging the fragile trust between the British public and the members of this House.”
Astoundingly, the Commons erupted approvingly once again at the prospect of a disconnect between the public and parliament.
Mrs May herself appeared deeply taken aback, scowling at members across the House as they dissolved into chaos.
Philip Hammond said there was “confusion” around Wednesday night’s votes when several ministers failed to vote with the Government.
But he told Sky this morning: “I don’t expect there to be mass sackings as a result of last night.”
The Chancellor urged hard Brexiteers to consider backing Theresa May’s deal when it returns to the Commons.
“I understand why they may not find the Prime Minister’s deal perfectly in line with their view of the optimum future relationship,” he said.
“But it is clear the House of Commons has to find a consensus around something, and if it is not the Prime Minister’s deal, I think it will be something that is much less to the taste of those of the hard Brexit wing of my party.”
Conservative Deputy Chairman James Cleverley tweeted: “Over the last few days we’ve seen a load of MPs saying “we respect the referendum result”, then voting against the deal, then voting not to leave without a deal.
“They are either kidding themselves (generous interpretation) or trying to kid the public (more probable).”
After the defeat, Mrs May made it clear that she intends to put a third “meaningful vote” on her Brexit deal to the Commons within days.
Following the Commons move on no deal, the Government put down a motion for debate on Thursday that offers to seek a one-off extension of Article 50, delaying the scheduled Brexit date of March 29 to June 30 if MPs approve the deal negotiated with the EU by next Wednesday.
However, the PM warned if the deal – which has already been twice rejected by overwhelming majorities – is not approved, a longer extension will be needed, requiring Britain to take part in the European Parliament elections in May.