Wednesday 5 December 2018 9:07 am

No-deal Brexit is ‘default option’ if May’s withdrawal agreement voted down, says Leadsom

A no-deal Brexit would be the “default” outcome if parliament votes against the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal next week, according to the leader of the House of Commons.

“Unless government were to do something completely different to change tack, or indeed to pass this deal, then we will be leaving the EU on 29 March next year without a deal, so it defaults to no deal,” Andrea Leadsom told the BBC’s Today programme this morning.

Lawmakers have come out heavily against Theresa May’s proposed withdrawal agreement, which would tie the UK into a temporary customs union with the EU that it cannot leave of its own accord.

Labour has said it will vote against the deal, with shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer arguing that voting it down could eventually lead to a second Brexit referendum.

But Leadsom argued that MPs would not get a vote on what happens following a rejection of May’s deal, when asked if MPs have the power to stop a no-deal scenario.

“I can't see that they do,” she said. “The issue is that the default position is no deal.”

Her comments follow a bruising day for the government as it lost three key parliamentary votes yesterday, one of which seeks to give MPs more power to influence the nature of Brexit.

If May’s deal is voted down, the government would have 21 days to offer up an alternative plan.

But former attorney general Dominic Grieve’s amendment means that the Commons could vote on what they want the government to do, with many favouring a Norway-style relationship including Single Market access.

Another vote saw the government found in contempt of parliament for not publishing its legal advice on Brexit, which it will now do at 11.30am today.

Leadsom added that MPs would regret the historic vote yesterday.

“Frankly, I think any parliamentarian who wants at some point in the future to be in government is going to live to regret their vote last night,” she said.

“Going forward, not only will government ministers be very careful about what they ask law officers to give advice on, but law officers themselves will be very reluctant to give any advice to government that they might then see published on the front pages of the newspapers.”

The government’s terrible day started off five days of debate on Brexit before parliament votes on May’s deal on Tuesday, 11 December.