Commons 'meaningful vote' on Brexit

11 December 2018

The House of Commons was scheduled to spend five days debating the EU Withdrawal Agreement ending with a 'meaningful vote' on Tuesday 11 December. On day four of debate, Monday 10 December, the Government chose to defer the planned vote to a future date.

Day four: Monday 10 December 2018

The Government chose to defer the 'meaningful vote' until an as yet unspecified future date. The Prime Minister informed the House of this in a statement to the Commons where she acknowledged "If we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow, the deal would be rejected by a significant margin."

The Prime Minister's statement was followed by a statement from the Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom, who outlined the changes to business on Monday 10 December and Tuesday 11 December.

Many MPs, including the official Opposition, argued against the Prime Ministers' decision to defer the vote, and have called for an emergency debate on Tuesday 11 December on the Government's handling of the meaningful vote debate. This emergency debate has been granted by the Speaker of the House.

Day three: Thursday 6 December 2018

Thursday's debate was opened by Chancellor Philip Hammond who defended the Government's Brexit deal, saying, "We have to make our choice as a nation, and it falls to this House to act on the nation’s behalf, setting aside narrow party interests and focusing on what is in the national interest of our United Kingdom".

His opposite number, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, responded to Hammond, telling the House, "Let us accept that the Prime Minister’s deal will not protect our economy and has to be rejected. Let us work together to secure the long-term interests and future prosperity of our country and our constituents".

The debate was closed by International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and his Shadow, Labour's Barry Gardiner. A wide range of backbenchers made speeches, including former Brexit Secretary David Davis, former First Secretary of State Damian Green and the Commons' newest MP Janet Daby.

Day two: Wednesday 5 December 2018

Debate was opened by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Sajid Javid. He urged MPs to join him in supporting the Prime Ministers' deal, saying "the deal protects not only EU citizens living in the UK, but UK nationals living in the EU".

Responding on behalf of the Opposition was Diane Abbott, who referred to the deal as "botched" and claimed that "The more we examine the deal, the more it becomes clear that the House cannot vote for it."

Other speeches on the second day of debate included, the recently resigned minister Sam Gyimah, the SNP Spokesperson on Home Affairs - Joanna Cherry, and many others.

Day one: Tuesday 4 December 2018

Debate was opened by the Prime Minister, who made her case for why MPs should support her withdrawal agreement - "this deal deserves your support for what it achieves for all of our people and our whole United Kingdom".

The Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, responded, arguing against the Prime Minister's proposal. He claimed that "the deal before us would make our country worse off", and stated that its only achievement was that it "has united Conservative remainers, Conservative leavers and Members of every Opposition party in an extraordinary coalition against the deal."

Further speeches were made by the Westminster Leaders of the SNP, DUP, and Green Party and the Leader of the Liberal Democrats. Other speeches included former Foreign Secretaries Margaret Beckett and Boris Johnson, and the Chair of the Brexit Select Committee, Hilary Benn. Many other backbench MPs from across the House of Commons also spoke in the debate.

What is the 'meaningful vote'?

The 'meaningful vote' is the House of Common's decision on the EU Withdrawal Agreement.

Following months of negotiations by the UK Government and European Union, a withdrawal agreement has been agreed in principle. This agreement sets out the arrangements for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union and from the European Atomic Energy Community.

A future framework outlining the future relationship between the UK and the EU has also been negotiated. 

Five days of debate

The first thing debated on Tuesday 4 December was a Business of the House Motion which set aside eight hours of debate on five days, leading to a 'meaningful vote' and amendments at the end of the day on Tuesday 11 December. There will be no debates on Friday 7 December.

Motion for debate

SECTION 13(1)(B) OF THE EUROPEAN UNION (WITHDRAWAL) ACT 2018

The Prime Minister

That this House approves for the purposes of section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, the negotiated withdrawal agreement laid before the House on Monday 26 November 2018 with the title ‘Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community’ and the framework for the future relationship laid before the House on Monday 26 November 2018 with the title ‘Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom’.

House of Commons Library analysis

The House of Commons Library produces briefing papers to inform MPs and their staff of key issues. The papers contain factual information and a range of opinions on each subject, and aim to be politically impartial.

The Library has published the following papers relating to the 'meaningful vote' debates.

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