Response to the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration: Options for Parliament

16 January 2019

Exiting the European Union Committee publishes immediate report on next steps for Parliament following rejection of the Withdrawal Agreement. It calls for a series of indicative votes to offer the House an opportunity to try and find an option supported by a majority. MPs should also be able to vote on extending Article 50 if Parliament cannot reach agreement on a way forward before 29 March.

Following the decision of the House overwhelmingly to reject the Prime Minister’s deal, the Exiting the EU Committee is today publishing an immediate report setting out recommendations to the House about potential next steps.

The Government must table a motion by Monday 21 January at the latest on what it proposes to do next.

Chair's comment

The Committee Chair, Hilary Benn MP, commented:

“The Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement has been rejected by the House of Commons, and we are just 72 days away from 29 March, when the UK is due to leave the European Union.

“The House of Commons needs to see if there is a consensus for a different approach and holding a series of indicative votes as soon as possible will help us to do that.”

Four options identified by the Committee

1. To hold another vote on the draft Withdrawal Agreement and Framework for the Future Relationship.

2. To leave the EU with no deal on 29 March with no agreement on future relations in place in and with no transition/implementation period.

3. To call on the Government to seek to re-negotiate the deal to achieve a specific outcome, be it a variation of the terms of the separation set out in the Withdrawal Agreement or providing clarity about the end state of future relations as set out in the Political Declaration.

The main renegotiation possibilities would be:

a) Seeking changes to the text in the Withdrawal Agreement on the backstop arrangements
b) Seeking a Canada-style deal;
c) Seeking to join the EEA through the EFTA pillar and remaining in a customs union with the EU or a variation on this.

4. In addition to these policy choices about the UK’s future relationship, Parliament could decide to hold a second referendum to allow the British people to decide either which kind of Brexit deal they want or whether they wish to remain in the EU.

Today’s short Report of 22 paragraphs sets out the broad options. The Committee plans to expand on these in a more detailed report in the coming weeks.  

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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