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Speaker grants emergency debate on the 'meaningful vote' deferral

11 December 2018

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MPs held an emergency debate on the Government's management of the 'meaningful vote' debate. The debate was originally intended to conclude with a vote on Tuesday 11 December.

Following the Government's announcement on Monday 10 December that they would defer the 'meaningful vote' on the EU Withdrawal Agreement, the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn applied for an emergency debate on the Government's handling of the vote.

In his opening comment, Corbyn criticized the Government's decision to postpone the vote, saying;

"The Prime Minister let down all MPs and the people we represent, on both sides of this House, the overwhelming majority of whom know that this deal is dead and want to get on with putting a realistic solution in place."

Some Conservative MPs responded in defence of the Government, asking why the opposition were surprised that following criticism of her deal, the Prime Minister might seek clarification from the EU, this accounting for the delay.

The House divided on the motion for the debate. The Noes carried the motion 299 to 0 after all but one Conservative MP abstained.

Application for debate

The House of Commons agreed to an application for an emergency debate, made by Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, on Monday 10 December 2018. Whilst making his application, the Leader of the Opposition stated that,

"On Tuesday 4 December, the House unanimously agreed a business motion that sets out the rules and timetable governing the meaningful vote debate. The Prime Minister has today unilaterally announced that she will “defer the vote scheduled for tomorrow, and will not proceed to divide the House at this time.”

That is a quote from her. Neither the Prime Minister nor the Leader of the House has confirmed the date for the conclusion of the debate or the votes. This shows a disregard for Parliament and the rights of the House, as well as of the 164 Members who have spoken in the debate and those who are planning to do so. Once again, the decisions of Parliament are being ignored. It is clear, as the Prime Minister admitted in her statement, that she has decided to avoid a heavy defeat on her deal in the House of Commons tomorrow. Again, Parliament is being given no opportunity to express its view on her negotiation."

Emergency debates

An emergency debate is a debate called at short notice in the House of Commons on a matter that should have urgent consideration. An MP may apply to the Speaker for an emergency debate under the rules of Standing Order No. 24.

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