Brexit next steps to be decided in sequence of votes

Theresa May has allowed a free vote for Conservative party members

Pro-Europe demonstrators hang British and EU flags during a protest outside parliament. AP.
Pro-Europe demonstrators hang British and EU flags during a protest outside parliament. AP.

Following the rejection of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit proposal, parliament has been asked to make its preferences clear through a series of votes.

After the Brexit withdrawal agreement was defeated by a 149 vote majority, Mrs May proposed a motion that ruled out a policy of leaving the European Union without a deal.

Once passed the government promised to then offer the MPs the choice of seeking a delay in the March 29 Brexit date so that London could engage with Brussels in further talks. That vote is due to take place on Thursday.

Senior figures in Europe have said that a delay could be as short as less than two months until May 23rd. Other European leaders are thought to favour a longer delay of a year or more, which would raise the possibility of second referendum that would cancel Brexit altogether.

Before getting to that there were several permutations in amendments to the government's no-deal proposal on Wednesday.

One measure proposed by Dame Caroline Spelman and Jack Dromey prohibited a no-deal Brexit in any circumstances whatever the outcome of talks with Brussels.

A second proposal, known to its backers as the Malthouse Compromise, garnered support from hardcore Brexiteers, Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party as well as a handful of former remain supporters including Mrs May’s close ally, Damian Green.

This would effectively advocate a no-deal Brexit, with temporary arrangements that would ease the disruption to trade and other ties.

Members of the Conservative Party were given a free vote on the second amendment after some cabinet members said they would resign if they were not allowed to vote for it.

Even if MPs do back it, the EU has already repeatedly rejected it.

Michel Barnier, the EU's Brexit negotiator, has declared the negotiations with Britain "done and dusted" and said the search for an alternative only prolongs the uncertainty for all sides.

“This treaty which we negotiated with the government of Theresa May for a year and a half is and will remain the only available treaty,” he said.

Updated: March 13, 2019 07:28 PM


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