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brexit means...

MPs to vote on an amendment that calls for a second referendum this evening

Four amendments have been selected for this evening’s vote on whether to request an extension to Article 50 from the EU.

LAST UPDATE | 14 Mar 2019

Brexit House of Commons Speaker John Bercow PA Wire / PA Images PA Wire / PA Images / PA Images

FOUR AMENDMENTS HAVE been selected ahead of tonight’s House of Commons vote on whether to extend Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. 

MPs are due to vote again in the House of Commons this evening at 5pm and will be asked whether they want to vote to request an extension to Article 50 from the European Union which would see Brexit delayed.

If the government’s motion is passed, the UK would not leave the EU on 29 March. Prime Minister Theresa May has said the motion will ask politicians to vote on a ‘short, limited, technical’ extension to Article 50 until 30 June, a day before the new EU parliament begins.

However, it would have to ask the EU if it could do so. 

MPs had submitted 10 amendments to the motion, four of which have now been selected by House Speaker John Bercow for MPs to vote on.

The amendments will be voted on before the Prime Minister’s motion; if they’re passed, they will be added onto that motion, and that motion will be voted on at the end. This means that the Prime Minister’s motion may be dramatically altered, by one or all four amendments, the time MPs vote on it.

The four amendments are:

  • Amendment H – Tabled by former Tory MP Sarah Wollaston and the newly formed Independent Group, it aims for a delay to allow for a referendum that asks people do they want Theresa May’s deal or do they want to remain in the EU 
  • Amendment I – Tabled by Labour MP Hilary Benn, it seeks to find a way forward through the Brexit impasse with majority support by allowing MPs to take control of parliamentary time from Theresa May on 20 March
  • Amendment E – Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s amendment seeks to extend Article 50 to avoid leaving without a deal on 29 March, and provide time to find “a majority for a different approach”
  • Amendment J – Tabled by Labour MP Chris Bryant, it essentially seeks to block another free vote on May’s deal, considering it has been rejected twice before. 

Amendment B was not selected, which aimed to reject a second referendum on the basis that it would be “divisive and expensive”.

Meanwhile, European Council President Donald Tusk has said he will ask EU leaders to be open to allowing a “long extension” to Brexit if the UK needs time to rethink its leaving strategy. 

Tusk tweeted that he “will appeal to the EU27 to be open to a long extension if the UK finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus around it”.

Tusk’s comments come ahead of tonight’s vote. As president of the European Council, he will be the host of a 21 March summit in Brussels that may be asked to decide whether to push back Britain’s 29 March departure from the Union.

May said that to get such an extension, there would have to be a deal in place, and that the only deal on offer is the current Withdrawal Agreement. 

She said that parliament needs to accept that the only other option open to them if that motion is rejected is to opt for a much longer extension.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said a long extension is most likely and that Ireland won’t be an obstacle to an extension – but some other member states will be “quite demanding”. 

He added that he got a courtesy call from his UK counterpart before they published the no-deal tariff plan yesterday morning and that the plan galvanised the EU to continue to back Ireland and the backstop. 

The House of Commons last night voted against a no-deal Brexit with 321 MPs rejecting leaving the European Union without an agreement at any time. A total of 278 MPs voted against the motion which aims to rule out a no-deal Brexit in any circumstances.  

During last night’s events, MPs also voted for a ‘no no-deal ever’ amendment as put down by Caroline Spelman. Its aim was to rule out a no-deal Brexit at any time rather than just up until 29 March, as May had proposed.

A total of 312 voted for it – ie to entirely reject a no-deal at any time now or in the future – while 308 voted against the amendment. 

With reporting by Sinead O’Carroll and Cónal Thomas

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