POLITICS
13/12/2018 14:27 GMT

We've Crunched The Numbers On Which MPs Had The Most To Say About Brexit

It's been the hottest topic in the Commons.

Parliament TV

Brexit has certainly offered a dramatic few weeks in the House of Commons.

From a downtrodden Theresa May admitting that she was in fact shelving the vote on her Brexit deal just hours after numerous promises it was *definitely* going ahead, to Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle picking up Parliament’s ceremonial mace in a bizarre Brexit protest, there’s been a veritable buffet of attention-grabbing moments.

Oh, and Tory MPs triggering a vote of no confidence in their leader just months before the UK is set to leave the EU, of course.

Theresa May fought off the attack, meaning her leadership can’t be challenged for another year (via those methods anyway) and leaving her free to continue plugging away at securing an exit deal.

But away from the main headlines, who has really dominated the debate in Westminster?

HuffPost UK trawled through hundreds of pages of the Hansard to reveal the MPs who have been most vocal on the UK’s imminent EU exit – and the parties punching above their weight on the topic.

Who Spoke Most Often?

PA Archive/PA Images
Father of the House Ken Clarke speaking in the House of Commons while Tory MP Sir Desmond Swayne appears to nap 

Across the three days of scheduled debate last week (which would have been five if not for the delay to the vote) and the Commons’ highly-charged reaction to May’s unexpected can-kicking on Monday – 286 MPs took to their feet to have their say on exactly how the UK should leave the European Union.

But it was Tory Remainer and Father of the House Ken Clarke who had the most to say, speaking on all three debate days, as well as during an emergency debate tabled after the PM announced her plan to postpone the crunch vote on her deal.

Meanwhile, 20 other members of the House – including DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds and former transport minister Jo Johnson, who quit over May’s proposed Brexit deal – addressed their colleagues on three different days.

HuffPost UK
Most vocal MPs: Parliamentarians from each party who spoke on three of the four days of the debate 

Which Party Dominated The Debate?

MPs from across the House made 403 individual appearances in the Commons during the three days on which the Brexit debate was scheduled, with some taking to their feet to speak on more than one day. 

However, it was the anti-Brexit Scottish National Party who proved themselves parliament’s heaviest hitters, accounting for almost 12% of the appearances, despite holding just 5% of seats in the Commons.  

Statista Infographics
Infographic by Statista. A breakdown of the appearances made by each party's MPs versus each party's share of seats in Parliament 

While Labour’s share of speaking time and its presence on the Commons benches were found to be very similar – 38.9% and 39.5% respectively – the same could not be said for May’s party.

Despite having the biggest share of the seats in Parliament, with 48% – and its various factions being arguably the most vocal on the subject publicly – Tory MPs made up just two-fifths of the appearances in the debate itself.

What About The Gender Divide? 

Empics Entertainment
Labour MP Yvette Cooper was one of the most vocal MPs in the Brexit debate, appearing three times over three days 

HuffPost UK revealed in October that men had dominated earlier Brexit debate sessions, accounting for almost 90% of the discussions.

A study by Women for a People’s Vote found that while male MPs spoke for a total of 12.5 hours across three sessions centred on leaving the bloc, women took up just 2.4 hours.

But analysis of the number of appearances made by MPs in the recent round of debates shows that women held their own.

Out of the 403 appearances in December, female parliamentarians made up 122 – around 30%. Women currently hold 32% of seats in the Commons.

As such, men – who account for 68% of the House – made up 70% of appearances.

So What’s Happening Now?

It seems that May’s decision to pull the meaningful vote – rather than preventing a career-ending defeat in Parliament – threw her into the path of a different kind of trouble. 

Sir Graham Brady – who oversees backbench Tory MPs – revealed on Wednesday morning that at least 48 parliamentarians on the Conservative benches had submitted letters of no confidence in the PM, thereby triggering a ballot on whether she should continue as leader.

She saw off that threat, winning the vote with the backing of 200 of her MPs (although 117 of them moved against her).

But whether the incident has left her authority fatally wounded remains to be seen.

In a last-ditch attempt to stay in No 10, she signalled to Tory MPs ahead of the vote on Wednesday evening that she wouldn’t fight the next general election - before confirming the position publicly the next day.

“This vote isn’t about who leads the party into the next election, it’s about whether it makes sense to change leader at this point in the Brexit negotiations,” a Downing Street spokesman said.

And she still faces a mountainous battle to eventually get her draft withdrawal agreement through parliament – and getting the numbers she needs to support it will be her next big struggle.

Infographic by Statista