MPs in the UK House of Commons voted last night to take control of parliamentary process from the government by holding a series of indicative votes on the future of Brexit.
Prime Minister Theresa May announced in the House of Commons yesterday that she would not be bringing back her withdrawal agreement for a third meaningful vote this week as it would still be unable to pass a parliamentary vote; so MPs voted last night on the neutral motion “That this House…has considered the Written Statement”. Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said the government’s handling of the Brexit process had been a “national embarrassment”. Ian Blackford, leader of the SNP in Westminster, reminded the House that Scotland as a whole voted to remain in the EU, saying “if our votes don’t count then we may as well go home”.
The following amendments to the motion were provisionally selected:
- Amendment D, tabled by the Labour party leadership, would see the government provide sufficient parliamentary time this week for the House to find an alternative to May’s deal which can garner a majority of MPs’ votes – this amendment was not moved;
- Amendment A or the “Letwin amendment”, tabled by Conservatives Sir Oliver Letwin and Dominic Grieve and Labour’s Hilary Benn, would establish a series of indicative votes on potential options for how to proceed, including revoking Article 50, holding a second referendum and leaving the EU but remaining in a customs union – this amendment passed the vote by a majority of 329 votes to 302; and
- Amendment F, tabled by Labour MP Margaret Beckett, which would compel the government to make arrangements for a vote to permanently block a no-deal Brexit and request a further extension to Article 50 to give MPs time to debate the future of Brexit in the event the UK comes within seven days of leaving the EU without a deal. This amendment failed to pass.
MPs will hold the indicative votes tomorrow; though before the vote May let MPs know she would be unlikely to respect the result of an indicative vote, saying: “No government could give a blank cheque to commit to an outcome without knowing what it is.” Three cabinet ministers – health minister Steve Brine, Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt and business minister Richard Harrington – resigned their posts in order to vote for the Letwin amendment; while 26 other Conservative MPs defied the whip and voted for the amendment despite the government’s opposition to it.
An online petition calling on the government to revoke Article 50, thereby cancelling Brexit, has now received over 5.7 million signatures.