Suffolk MPs surprised by scale of Brexit vote on Prime Minister’s deal

Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

MPs in the House of Commons were tonight coming to terms with the scale of the Government’s defeat in the Brexit debate – and were preparing for Wednesday’s confidence vote tabled by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Ipswich MP Sandy Martin has campaigned for Suffolk Pride to return Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Ipswich MP Sandy Martin has campaigned for Suffolk Pride to return Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

They had all expected the government defeat – but had expected it to be much closer.

Bury St Edmunds MP and government whip Jo Churchill said: “This result is very frustrating. At the time of the referendum I said we would respect the result and come up with a deal that did what the people wanted.

“We had that deal that took us out of the EU but protected jobs and protected the rights of people working here and of Britons working in the EU and this happens. It is very frustrating.”

She and her colleagues have now started on trying to ensure Conservative MPs support the government in the confidence debate – and while she was not taking anything for granted, she felt that would go in Mrs May’s favour.

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Ipswich Labour MP Sandy Martin thought the confidence debate could be finely balanced after the Brexit vote: “When Jeremy didn’t call the vote before Christmas there was a feeling that we could not win then.

“But this is the biggest government defeat ever and there is no sign of where they are going from here. Who can have confidence in the government now? I’m still not confident about the result of the confidence motion – but I don think anything could happen.”

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Waveney Tory MP Peter Aldous was another who was surprised by the scale of the defeat.

“I thought the government would lose. But I was expecting something in the region of 100 votes so this was rather a surprise.

“I think everyone in the party will back the Prime Minister tomorrow and we can then get on and hear what the plan is for the future at the start of next week – but it has been a very interesting day!”

Tory MPs will be under huge pressure to support the government in the confidence motion. Anyone who rebels can expect to be thrown out of the party and deselected – so they would have to sit as an independent and would not be able to fight any future election under a party banner. That is likely to prevent any rebellion.

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