SOUTH Swindon MP Robert Buckland has explained why he had abstained on a key Brexit vote.

He said he "did not feel it right to vote against the only chance to oppose a crash-out on March 29".

The solicitor general, who campaigned for Remain in 2016, was one of 12 ministers who did not cast their vote on Thursday night. Theresa May's government lost the no-deal Brexit vote by 321 votes to 278.

Ministers had tabled an initial motion blocking a no-deal Brexit on March 29 but keeping the option on the table. That was defeated by an amendment brought initially by Tory Caroline Spelman, ruling out no-deal in any event.

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Mr Buckland said: "I have been working constantly for a smooth Brexit, rather than a crash out no deal at the end of the month. Last night, the government’s original motion, which I supported together with an amendment that sought another way of sorting out an orderly Brexit, was taken out by the widely-drawn Spelman amendment, which I had voted against. The amendment then passed and I then did not feel it right to vote against the only chance yesterday to oppose a crash out on March 29."