Brexit vote: LGBT figures react to biggest government defeat in history

Theresa May (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

LGBT+ campaigners and allies have reacted after Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal was rejected by 230 votes, the largest defeat for a sitting government in UK history, with some calling on her to resign.

MPs voted 432 votes to 202, thus rejecting a deal proposing terms for Britain leaving the EU on March 29.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has tabled a vote of no confidence in the government in response to the defeat, which could spark a general election.

May has said she will schedule a slot for debating the motion, which Corbyn said would allow the House of Commons to “give its verdict on the sheer incompetence of this government,” in parliament on Wednesday (January 16), reports the BBC. 

Prime minister should resign after Brexit defeat, says Owen Jones

Taking to Twitter on Tuesday evening (January 15), Guardian columnist and LGBT+ rights activist Owen Jones posted: “Theresa May’s deal has been crushed in Parliament by 230 votes, the biggest defeat suffered by a government in the history of British democracy.

“If she had any decency she would resign on the spot.”

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, however, argued that a snap general election would probably result in a Labour defeat, citing statistics from a recent YouGov poll.

“If Labour goes into an election promising to proceed with Brexit (as Jeremy Corbyn has promised), Labour would slump to third place, with 22%, behind the Liberal Democrats, who would jump to 26%,” he wrote.

“If she had any decency she would resign on the spot.”

—Journalist Owen Jones

“Corbyn’s pledge is likely to result in a Tory victory.”

After the defeat of her Brexit deal, May told the chamber that “house has spoken and the government will listen.”

Jeremy Corbyn, who has tabled a vote of no confidence following the Brexit defeat

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has tabled a vote of no confidence against the government. (Paul Grace)

Liberal Democrats leader Vince Cable, an outspoken supporter of LGBT+ rights, has called for a second referendum on whether the UK should leave the EU, following the defeat of May’s Brexit deal in parliament.

“This defeat is beyond what anyone imagined,” he wrote.

“It is the beginning of the end of Brexit. Time for a #PeoplesVote.”

Following the defeat, Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)—which has a confidence-and-supply agreement with May’s government—reportedly issued a statement saying it would support the Tory government in the no confidence vote.

“We will work with the Government constructively to achieve a better deal. That is our focus.”

—DUP leader Arlene Foster

Arlene Foster, who became the first DUP leader to attend an event focused on LGBT+ rights at PinkNews’ summer reception in Belfast last year, said in a statement that the government must improve the terms of the Brexit deal.

“We will work with the Government constructively to achieve a better deal. That is our focus,” Foster, who opposes equal marriage, wrote.

“Whilst some may wish to use this defeat to boost their political ambitions, we will give the Government the space to set out a plan to secure a better deal.”

Arlene Foster

Arlene Foster became the first DUP leader to attend an LGBT+ event at PinkNews’ summer reception last year. (Charles McQuillan/Getty)

The Scottish National Party (SNP), however, issued a statement saying it supports Labour’s tabled vote of no confidence in the government.

“Historic defeat for the PM and it has been obvious for months that it was coming,” wrote SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, who led Glasgow Pride last year, on Twitter.

“Enough time has been wasted. It is time to stop the Article 50 clock and put this issue back to electorate.

“Scotland voted to remain in the EU and we should not be dragged out against our will.”

Some 118 Conservative MPs voted against the prime minister’s deal.

Philip Hammond among cabinet ministers to back prime minister’s Brexit deal

However, a number of cabinet ministers have backed Theresa May’s proposed Brexit terms.

“Today’s vote in the @HouseofCommons is one of the most important decisions Parliament will ever make,” Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond wrote earlier on Tuesday (January 15).

“@theresa_may has secured the best possible #Brexit deal, one that protects jobs, security and the integrity of the UK. So let’s end the division and #BacktheBrexitDeal,” tweeted Hammond.

Stephen Barclay, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, also backed May’s Brexit deal earlier on Tuesday.

“17.4m people voted to leave the EU; 80% of people voted for Lab and Con manifestos which both pledged to honour the referendum,” he wrote.

“A clear majority of MPs voted to trigger Article 50; MPs need to respect the referendum result & vote for this deal so we can leave the EU on 29th March.”

Ruth Davidson, Scottish Conservative leader, who recently gave birth to a son with her partner Jen Wilson, showed her support for May in December.

“The Prime Minister has cojones of steel and is putting in a punishing degree of effort to deliver for our country,” she wrote.

“She has my full support.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock defended May in an interview with the BBC after the Brexit vote.

Hancock insisted that the prime minister is the “best person to lead this country,” despite the defeat.

He said an extension of Article 50 is “not what I want to see,” adding that he doesn’t believe it is “necessary.”