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18 March 2015updated 03 Aug 2021 1:07pm

Everything you need to know about Stephen Kinnock’s amendment to the Brexit delay bill

By Ailbhe Rea

Stephen Kinnock, Labour leaver and MP for Aberavon, has tabled an amendment to this evening’s Brexit delay bill, to allow MPs essentially to vote again on Theresa May’s deal.

Backed by MPs including Rory Stewart, it is based on the deal that came out of negotiations between Labour MPs and May’s team back in May, but was never voted on because May was ousted from power before such a vote could take place.  It includes Labour-won concessions such as a workers’ rights bill and parliamentary time for a vote on a confirmatory referendum.

Why is it interesting? As a pretty much definitive answer to the thought experiment: why not bring back May’s deal?

Kinnock, a sometimes controversial character, represents a number of Labour MPs who regret not voting for May’s deal now that they are faced with either No Deal or further delay, the latter of which “will leave most of the country banging their head against a brick wall”, he says. There have been murmurs around Westminster about the scale of that regret, and this gives a formal opportunity to test that.

After much deliberation and private debate this afternoon, Conservative whips have decided to give their party’s MPs a free vote on the amendment, after many reminded them that they had spent months battling for May’s deal on the airwaves, and would refuse to vote against bringing it back. It now puts Theresa May in the strange situation of voting on whether to bring back her own deal from the backbenches, and requires other Conservatives to weigh up how loyal they are to the deal now that they aren’t whipped to support it.

Will it pass? Despite the above, the most likely answer is no. Aside from the ERG members and Remainers who would never back it, even former ministers who backed May’s deal originally have concerns about what one describes as Kinnock’s “constant references to a Customs union”.  Even that core of original backers of May’s deal may not support it, although they are more positive about an amendment proposed by Tory MP Richard Graham, which would require a vote on ‘a’ deal on 21 October – either a new deal, or if Johnson can’t get one, May’s deal.

On the Labour side, it is expected that the whips will tell MPs to abstain on the vote.  Kinnock says he hasn’t even consulted the front bench about the amendment, and they seem highly unlikely to back a deal that still ultimately does not adhere to their red lines.

Despite the show of unity from rebels yesterday in opposition to No Deal, the amendment should be yet another reminder of the fundamental difficulty that MPs have in finding anything they actually can unite behind and pass.

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