How will MPs amend the no deal motion?

A complete guide to the amendments to the 13 March vote. 

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Tonight, MPs will vote on the government’s motion to reject a no deal Brexit. The motion itself is controversial, because in the same breath as ruling out no deal it “notes that leaving without a deal remains the default in UK and EU law unless this House and the EU ratify an agreement”.

Six amendments have been put forward in total, and the Speaker John Bercow will select which ones will be voted on later today. Theresa May said last night that her party will have a free vote on the no deal motion itself, and this morning has also allowed a free vote on amendment (f)—which is based on the so-called Malthouse compromise—after heavy pressure from Brexiteers.

1.  Reject no deal

What does it do?

This straightforward cross-party amendment would remove the second, contentious part of the government’s motion. Proposed by the Tories’ Caroline Spelman and Labour’s Jack Dromey, it would reject a no-deal Brexit outright, without acknowledging that a deal needs to be agreed to prevent that eventuality. Crucially, it also removes reference to the UK leaving the EU on 29 March 2019, paving the way for MPs to agree to an extension of Article 50. It’s signed by a mix of MPs who are dead against a no deal Brexit but don’t want a second referendum, such as Yvette Cooper and Nick Boles, and out-and-out supporters of a People’s Vote such as Dominic Grieve and Mary Creagh.

Will it pass?

It’s likely—Labour will back it and it already has several Conservative signatories. This is one to watch, because if it passes it suggests that MPs will vote in favour of an extension when it is put as a standalone motion to the House tomorrow. Whether the EU will grant the UK an extension if there is no prospect of a second referendum or general election is another question.

Full text

"...rejects the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship.”.

 

2. MacNeil’s revocation of Article 50

What does it do?

Forget simply rejecting no deal. This would have MPs demand that the government revokes Article 50, withdrawing notice of the UK’s intention to leave the EU. It’s been proposed by SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil and has been backed by his party, the Father of the House Ken Clarke, Keith Vaz and a smattering of anti-Brexit Labour MPs.

Will it pass?

No. Aside from the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, the Independent Group, and Green MP Caroline Lucas, just 71 Labour MPs and a handful of Conservatives have come out in favour of a second referendum. There’s therefore no chance of MPs passing a motion that goes even further and unilaterally revokes Article 50.

Full text

“...calls on the Government to bring forward urgently the legislation necessary to require the Prime Minister to revoke before 29 March 2019 the UK’s notice of intention to withdraw from the EU under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.”.

 

3. Plaid Cymru’s extend and ref

What does it do?

The amendment would have MPs agree to a long extension of Article 50 “until 2021, or until the future relationship has been negotiated”. It then calls for a second referendum to be held at the end of that period, on either accepting the freshly-negotiated Withdrawal Agreement or staying in the EU. It’s been proposed by Plaid Cymru’s four MPs: Hywel Williams, Liz Saville Roberts, Jonathan Edwards and Ben Lake.

Will it pass?

Again, no. There is nothing close to a majority in the House for a second referendum.

Full text

“...notes that the National Assembly for Wales, the Scottish Parliament and the House of Commons all voted overwhelmingly to reject the Prime Minister’s deal; recognises that the National Assembly for Wales and the Scottish Parliament voted convincingly in favour of a People’s Vote; further notes that this House rejected the UK’s leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement and a future relationship framework; and therefore calls on the Government to honour the respective will of each Parliament by seeking to extend the time under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union until 2021, or until the future relationship has been negotiated, and by holding a binding referendum at the end of that period on either accepting the Withdrawal Agreement or retaining membership of the European Union.”

 

4.  TIG Vol. 1 — extend, revoke and vote

What does it do?

The first of two amendments proposed by the Independent Group of MPs, made up of 11 defectors from Labour and the Tories, this would have MPs resolve that “under no circumstances” will the UK leave the EU without a deal. It notes that the options available before parliament are to extend Article 50, revoke it, and/or hold a second referendum.

Will it pass?

No. Although the amendment does not explicitly back any course of action other than to categorically rule out no deal, it won’t be supported by anyone except MPs who are willing to countenance an Article 50 revocation and second referendum. The fact that it has been proposed by TIG adds an element of political toxicity. Labour and Tory rebels were far likelier to side with MPs such as Chuka Umunna and Heidi Allen when they too were breaking their party whip. Now that they’ve cut those ties, other MPs will be worried about looking like they too are planning to defect if they side with TIG on key votes.

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leave out from “2019;“ to end and add “...resolves that under no circumstances should the United Kingdom leave the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship; and notes that options available to this House now include instructing the Prime Minister to request an extension of the Article 50 period, instructing the Prime Minister to revoke the Article 50 notification, and making arrangements for a public vote on whether or not the United Kingdom should proceed with leaving the European Union.”.

 

5.  TIG Vol. 2 — straight no deal rejection

What does it do?

Much like the Spelman-Dromey amendment, the second TIG proposal would simply delete the parts of the motion that refer to an exit date and the fact that leaving without a deal remains the legal default.

Will it pass?

No, because it does the exact same thing as Spelman-Dromey, which is the one gaining traction.

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Line 2, leave out from “Relationship” to end

 

6. Malthouse is back

What does it do?

This amendment is based on the Malthouse compromise, agreed on by a mix of Leave and Remain supporting Conservatives, which has resurfaced again despite the fact that it has been categorically ruled out by the EU. It would instruct the government to ditch the entire Withdrawal Agreement, seek an extension of Article 50 until 22 May and then offer the EU divorce payments and a citizen’s rights deal in exchange for a standstill transition period lasting until December 2021. But if the EU does not grant transition period, this amendemnt would lead to a no-deal Brexit in May.  

The proposal has been forward by May’s former right hand man Damian Green and backed by Iain Duncan Smith, Nicky Morgan, Steve Baker, Simon Hart and Jacob Rees-Mogg. Here’s a photo Baker posted of himself, Green, Morgan, and Hart handing it in.

Will it pass?

No, although since the Conservatives will have a free vote it’ll be an interesting test of how much support it can amass within the party. It already has the DUP’s backing, but it won’t go through unless it virtually every Tory MP gets behind it. Since the EU ruled out a transition period without a Withdrawal Agreement as recently as last night, Remain-supporting Tories will not get back an amendment that would in all likelihood simply see the UK leave with no deal in May. 

Full text

At end, add “; notes the steps taken by the Government, the EU and its Member States to minimise any disruption that may occur should the UK leave the EU without an agreed Withdrawal Agreement and proposes that the Government should build on this work as follows:

1. That the Government should publish the UK’s Day One Tariff Schedules immediately;

2. To allow businesses to prepare for the operation of those tariffs, that the Government should seek an extension of the Article 50 process to 10.59pm on 22 May 2019, at which point the UK would leave the EU;

3. Thereafter, in a spirit of co-operation and in order to begin discussions on the Future Relationship, the Government should offer a further set of mutual standstill agreements with the EU and Member States for an agreed period ending no later than 30 December 2021, during which period the UK would pay an agreed sum equivalent to its net EU contributions and satisfy its other public international law obligations; and

4. The Government should unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU citizens resident in the UK.”.

 

Eleni Courea writes about politics and is the winner of the Anthony Howard Award 2018.