MIL-OSI UK: Government defeated again as MPs set three-day ‘Plan B’ Brexit deadline

Source: Labour List UK

The government has been defeated again today, following another historic defeat last night, as MPs passed an amendment tabled by Tory backbencher Dominic Grieve by 308 votes to 297.

Commenting on the amendment passing, Labour’s Brexit spokesperson Keir Starmer said: “The government’s decision to delay the meaningful vote has run down the clock and increased the risk of a no deal Brexit.

“If the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal is defeated next week, she must return to parliament as soon as possible and give MPs a real say on what happens next.”

The Grieve amendment, which was approved by the Commons with a majority of 11, aims to force the Prime Minister to return to the House with an alternative plan by Monday 21st January after her deal is voted on Tuesday.

Without the amendment, the government would have had to make a statement on the next steps for Brexit within 21 days, then allow a Commons vote within seven sitting days.

Thanks to another Grieve amendment passed before the Christmas recess, the ‘Plan B’ motion will be amendable. This enables MPs, including the opposition, to propose their own alternative Brexit plans, such as the membership of a customs union favoured by Labour.

If Theresa May’s deal is voted down as anticipated on Tuesday, it has now been determined that she will have six calendar days to secure reassurances from the EU ahead of another vote.

Speaker Bercow’s decision to select the Grieve amendment today – despite it changing a business motion normally expected to be amendable by government only – was controversial.

For over an hour, following PMQs this afternoon, the Speaker took points of order on his ruling. A number of Tory MPs accused Bercow, who is thought to be a Remainer, of bias and of undermining the “integrity” of his position as Commons Speaker.

Conservative backbencher Crispin Blunt described Bercow as “no longer neutral”, but the Speaker defended his ruling, saying: “If we only went by precedent, manifestly nothing would ever change.”

Many members on the opposition benches spoke up to support Bercow, and it is widely understood that Labour’s backing of the Speaker protects him from being ousted by MPs.

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MIL-OSI UK: Yvette Cooper move to block no deal passes by 7 votes

Source: Labour List UK

A cross-party amendment laid down by backbench Labour MP Yvette Cooper and supported by the opposition frontbench has passed by 303 to 296 votes, representing another major government defeat on Brexit.

Commenting on the win, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “This vote is an important step to prevent a no deal Brexit. It shows that there is no majority in parliament, the cabinet or the country for crashing out of the EU without an agreement.

“That is why we are taking every opportunity possible in parliament to prevent no deal. Theresa May must now rule out no deal once and for all.”

The change to the Finance Bill will require the government to either extend Article 50 or gain the approval of parliament before being able to use tax-raising powers in the event of ‘no deal’.

By preventing the government from implementing no deal provisions without MPs’ consent, its aim is to help block the possibility of leaving the EU without a divorce deal.

Cooper explained in a piece for The Guardian today: “The amendment doesn’t affect the normal operations of the Treasury and government. But it does make it harder for the government to drift into no deal without parliament being able to direct it.”

The result of the vote confirms that there is no Commons majority for a no deal outcome. However, the amendment does not block no deal in itself; instead it simply makes that option more difficult to navigate.

During the debate, Tory backbencher Oliver Letwin told the Commons that he and Nicholas Soames MP, usually loyal to Theresa May, would rebel against the party whip for only the second time in their lives by voting for the amendment.

The amendment was signed by 11 Tories: Nicky Morgan, Nick Boles, Jonathan Djanogly, Edward Vaizey, Sarah Wollaston, Dominic Grieve, Dr Phillip Lee, Nicholas Soames, George Freeman, Guto Bebb and Heidi Allen.

Further details to follow…

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