Government's Brexit deal defeated again in 'meaningful vote'

12 March 2019

With 17 days remaining before the end of the Article 50 period, the House of Commons voted to again reject the Government's negotiated withdrawal agreement in a second 'meaningful vote'.

Despite additional documents on the Northern Irish backstop secured by the Prime Minister from the EU, on 12 March 2019, MPs voted 391 to 242 to reject the Government's deal.

Opening the debate, the Prime Minister called on MPs to back her deal and move the Brexit process forward. She said;

"The British people have been clear: they want us to implement the decision that they made nearly three years ago. So let us show what the House can achieve when we come together. Let us demonstrate what politics is for. Let us prove, beyond all doubt, that we believe democracy comes before party, faction, or personal ambition. The time has come to deliver on the instruction that we were given. The time has come to back this deal."

Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Opposition, accused the Prime Minister and her Government of running down the clock and putting the future of British people in jeopardy. He called on the House to, "do its job today and say no to the Prime Minister."

No amendments to the motion were selected, and it was defeated on division, 391 to 242.

What happens now the Government have again lost the 'meaningful vote'?

The Prime Minister said in a statement last week that if the deal was defeated, the House of Commons would be given the opportunity to vote on whether or not to pursue a no-deal Brexit on Wednesday 13 March 2019.

If that motion is defeated, the Government would then on 14 March, bring forward a motion on whether Parliament wants to seek ​a short, limited extension to article 50.

In an emergency business statement, following the 'meaningful vote', Andrea Leadsom, the Leader of the House, confirmed changes to the schedule for Wednesday 13 March.

"Wednesday 13 March—My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will deliver his spring statement, followed by a debate on a motion relating to the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union without a withdrawal agreement and a framework for the future relationship."

She also said that "if necessary" she would also make a business statement on Wednesday 13 March to update business on Thursday 14 March and allow a vote on extending Article 50.

Background

The Government was defeated by a majority of 230 in the previous 'meaningful vote' on January 15 2019. Over 100 Conservative MPs voted against the deal.

In the weeks since, the Prime Minister has returned to negotiations with the EU27 to try and secure concessions and changes that might command a majority in the House of Commons.

Particular focus has been given to the Northern Ireland backstop, intended as an interim measure to prevent a hard border between the UK and Republic of Ireland. There is concern that should negotiations fail after the point of exit, the UK would have no power to unilaterally withdraw from the arrangement.

The EU has indicated that should the deal be defeated again, it is not willing to reopen negotiations a third time.

As it stands, if a deal is not agreed and ratified by the UK and EU27 by March 29, leaving without a deal is the legal default.

Image: PC

Transcripts of today's proceedings will be available on Hansard three hours after they take place.

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