Parliament's Next Brexit Vote: A Guide to What's Happening
(Bloomberg) -- Parliament holds its latest set of votes on Theresa May’s Brexit strategy on Thursday. Much of the heat has been taken out of the day by the prime minister’s announcement that there will be another vote in two weeks, on Feb. 27. But members of Parliament aren’t going to let it pass without trying to express an opinion.
Here’s a guide to the motion, the amendments that have been selected -- and the one that isn’t there.
When Will They Vote?
From 5 p.m. London time. Commons Speaker John Bercow has chosen three amendments. Each vote takes about 15 minutes -- see our handy guide -- so we should get the final result by 6 p.m.
This is supposed to be the simple part, but it’s turning out not to be. For the previous debate in late January, May proposed what’s known as a “neutral motion” -- one that didn’t express a view.
This one “welcomes” her statement this week and goes on to say that Parliament “reiterates its support for the approach to leaving the EU expressed by this House on Jan. 29.” That has upset some Brexit-backing Tories, who say that, as a result of an amendment that passed that day, it implies they rejected a no-deal Brexit. They spent Wednesday discussing whether to vote against it, and were still making their minds up on Thursday. This will be the final vote, at around 6 p.m.
Setting a Deadline
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has proposed an amendment which would force May to give Parliament another vote by Feb. 27 if she hasn’t got her deal through. Though she has already promised to do this, Labour argues it would put the commitment in writing rather than relying on the prime minister’s word. It is, at the very least, an indication of the low level of trust in cross-party Brexit talks.
A Scottish National Party motion calling for Brexit to be delayed by at least three months. With everyone waiting for Feb. 27, it has no chance at this stage.
Publish The Economic Briefing
A trouble-making amendment from Tory Anna Soubry, this calls for the government to publish its most recent briefing on the economic impact of Brexit. This ticks the boxes for a possible defeat: It can’t be interpreted as trying to block Brexit, and it’ll embarrass the government.
The most interesting amendment is the one that isn’t there. Labour’s Yvette Cooper, who is leading a cross-party effort to force a delay to Brexit if there isn’t a deal, says she’ll hold fire until Feb. 27, at which point she’ll seek to take no-deal off the table if there isn’t an agreement by March 13.
Her attempt last month was fairly comfortably defeated, but she’s picked up an important ally this time, Tory Caroline Spelman, who is a reluctant rebel. The question is how many Tories Spelman brings with her, and whether they include any ministers. Labour have said they’ll support the move, though last time more than 20 on their side either voted against it or abstained.
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