The Speaker
Saturday, 20 April 2024 – 21:55

MPs allow May to attempt backstop renegotiation  

Last night MPs voted on seven amendments aimed at adjusting how Brexit will go forward.


The amendments from across the house were selected by the speaker John Bercow to be debated and voted on.


They were tabled by Jeremy Corbyn, Ian Blackford, Dominic Grieve, Yvette Cooper, Rachel Reeves, Dame Caroline Spelman and Sir Graham Brady. The motions were voted on in the same order.


Of the amendments, only two were voted forward. Firstly the Spelman (Conservative) and Dromey (Labour) amendment, which sought to prevent a “no-deal” Brexit.


It aimed to add the following statement to the PM’s motion on Brexit: Parliament “rejects the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship“.


The final amendment, tabled by the head of the 1922 Committee Graham Brady which also passed, required Mrs. May to replace the Irish backstop with “alternative arrangements”. 


The Prime Minister ordered her MPs to support this motion and it passed 317 to 301.


Despite being passed by the commons neither of these amendments have bound the government to a certain action.


However, this does allow the PM to attempt to renegotiate the backstop arrangement in the hopes of preventing the creation of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and gaining further support within her own party.


The PM will today be meeting with the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, for the first time to discuss the issue of Brexit


Mrs. May intends to return to the negotiating table in Brussels with hopes of getting the EU to agree to new legally binding terms that will replace the Irish backstop. However, she has already stated how difficult this will be and the EU made a response before she has left UK soil. 


Last night, In the immediate aftermath of the vote the EU refused this motion, a spokesperson stated:


“The Withdrawal Agreement is and remains the best and only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. The backstop is part of the Withdrawal Agreement, and the Withdrawal Agreement is not open for renegotiation. The December European Council conclusions are very clear on this point.”


As it stands, the UK is still set to leave the European Union in March, but there is no confirmation of how this will go forward.


The Amendments:


  • Labour Front Bench Amendment: to rule out the possibility of a No-Deal Brexit, calling for MPs to be able to vote on options such as a customs union with the EU, as well as the possibility of a new Brexit referendum.
  • SNP Amendment: an extension of article 50, calling on the house to understand the importance of the UK’s member states.
  • Dominic Grieves’ Amendment: forcing 6 days of debate on Brexit prior to 26th March to allow further discussion and voting on how the UK will proceed.
  • Yvette Cooper’s Amendment: called for an extension of article 50 up until December that would allow further negotiation on Brexit to avoid a no-deal scenario.
  • Rachel Reeve’s Amendment: called for Brexit to be postponed if PM did not get deal through by 26th March.
  • Dame Caroline Spelman and Jack Dromey Amendment: called for leaving the EU without a deal to be ruled out as a possibility.
  • Graham Brady’s Amendment: called for the backstop to be removed from the current Brexit deal and replaced by “alternative arrangements” to avoid a hard Irish border.
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