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British MPs to vote on seven motions - including on NI backstop - to amend Brexit withdrawal deal

In a bid to try to secure the support of MPs, May will hold talks with unnamed officials or leaders from the EU today.

Updated Jan 29th 2019, 2:31 PM

Brexit Source: Stefan Rousseau/PA Images

THE SPEAKER OF the House of Commons, John Bercow, has confirmed that MPs will vote on seven motions to amend Theresa May’s EU withdrawal deal this evening.

The British Prime Minister is seeking “legal changes” to the agreement she negotiated with EU leaders last month, in a bid to try to secure the support of MPs for the deal.

The current agreement was rejected by 230 votes by MPs earlier this month, a move that could see the UK leave the EU without a deal on 29 March.

This afternoon, Bercow confirmed that a vote would take place on a motion tabled by Sir Graham Brady to replace the backstop with “alternative arrangements” to avoid a hard border in Ireland.

Conservative MP Graham Brady put forward his amendment yesterday, which is now expected to be backed by his party.

Brady said that if the motion was approved by Parliament, it would give May “enormous firepower” to go back to Brussels and renegotiate the Brexit divorce deal.

‘No negotiation’

The EU’s position in relation to the backstop has not changed, however, with Brussels insisting it will not re-open the deal.

Sabine Weyand, deputy to EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier has warned that negotiations are over.

“There’s no negotiation between the EU and the UK. That negotiation is finished,” she said yesterday. 

She warned that Britain risked crashed out of the EU without a deal “by accident” because London cannot decide what it wants.

May spokesperson, however, said that the Prime Minister told her cabinet that “to win the support of the House of Commons, legal changes to the backstop will be required” and that EU leaders had made it clear that they want Britain to leave the EU on 29 March with a deal.

This, he said, “is in the best interests of the EU as well as the UK.”

Earlier today, DUP leader Arlene Foster said that her party is giving its endorsement to a proposal from a backbench MP which would see the backstop replaced by “alternative arrangements”.

Not binding

The other six amendments to be debated this evening include motions Labour MPs Yvette Cooper,  Jeremy Corbyn, and Rachel Reeves, Conservative MPs Dominic Grieve and Caroline Spelman, and Ian Blackford of the Scottish National Party.

Cooper’s motion calls for a vote on a Bill that would allow Parliament to take control of the Brexit process if Theresa May does not secure a deal by 26 February, and would give MPs a vote to extend Article 50 to the end of the year and prevent a no-deal Brexit.

Meanwhile, Grieve’s motion hopes to similarly avoid a no-deal Brexit by taking control of Commons business for six days ahead of March 29 to allow MPs to reach a consensus on the withdrawal process.

Any motions which pass will not be legally binding, but are hoped to carry enough political weight to show Brussels the type of Brexit that MPs will most likely approve. 

According to BBC, European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said that today was “a London day”, adding: “We have the vote tonight and then we’ll take it from there.”

With reporting from © – AFP, 2019 and Cónal Thomas  

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