Forget fantasy Brexit, UK tells lawmakers as crucial deal debate begins

Mindy Sparks
January 9, 2019

MPs backed an amendment demanding the Government return within three sitting days with a new plan if it is defeated in next week's crunch vote on the Prime Minister's Brexit deal.

The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement covers the terms of the UK's exit and the framework of its future relations with the EU.

"The real question for Members of Parliament who voted to give the public a say through the European referendum in 2016, who voted in large numbers to trigger Article 50, is the effect of triggering Article 50 is you either have a deal and the EU have been clear that the only deal on the table is the PM's deal".

A Government source speaking to The Times said Bercow allowed the amendment despite Commons clerks, whose job it is to advise the Speaker on Parliamentary procedure, telling him that amendments should not have been allowed.

"I also want to reassure colleagues that whatever the outcome of this debate, we will respond rapidly, recognizing that we must provide parliament with as much security as possible", Barclay said.

The House of Commons returned from its Christmas break ready to resume debating the withdrawal deal struck with the European Union in November, before voting on it next week, possibly on January 15.

The move is created to help sway the Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May's government, to back the divorce terms she negotiated with Brussels.

The meeting came as the United Kingdom government published plans for the Northern Ireland assembly to have a say on whether to enter the backstop or extend the transition period should a trade deal not be ready.

May argued in response that she has won clarifications on the backstop (not enough), published a package of commitments for Northern Ireland (already rejected by the DUP) and plans to give parliament a greater role in the process. Nigel Dodds, the party's deputy leader, described it as "cosmetic and meaningless".

May postponed the vote in mid-December when it became clear lawmakers would resoundingly reject the agreement, a compromise deal that has left both pro-European and pro-Brexit politicians unhappy.

Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London.

On Tuesday evening, Mrs May lost a vote on an amendment to a finance bill, which was created to limit the government's powers in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The 303 to 296 defeat means the government needs explicit parliamentary approval to leave the European Union without a deal before it can use certain powers relating to taxation law.

The amendment, which was carried by 303 votes to 297, does not force May and her ministers to change tack but is the first act of constitutional trench warfare between MPs and the government.

"The government's decision to delay the meaningful vote has run down the clock and increased the risk of a no deal Brexit", Labour's Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said.

Sir Oliver Letwin, a former minister in David Cameron's government who has never previously rebelled over Brexit, said that it was a signal to hard Brexit supporters that MPs would block a "no deal" scenario.

There was a major row in the Commons over whether the amendment could even be put to a vote, with Speaker John Bercow apparently disregarding the advice of his own clerks that it could not.

Several Conservative MPs accused Bercow of being biased, and there was speculation of an attempt to remove him from his post.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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