Forget fantasy Brexit, UK tells lawmakers as crucial deal debate begins

10 January, 2019, 04:18 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • Theresa May is back at work in Downing Street after her Christmas break

There were turbulent scenes in Parliament when some in May's Conservative Party accused the speaker of bias.

Numerous Labour MPs also came to his defence, with Labour MP Chuka Umunna tweeting: "In the Commons chamber now watching the spectacle of a bunch of Tory MPs, who argued for Brexit to reassert Parliamentary sovereignty, now objecting to the Speaker selecting a motion to be voted on that would empower the House of Commons".

The Commons amendment, tabled by Labour's Yvette Cooper, is created to limit the Treasury's ability to spend money on no-deal preparations, without the explicit consent of Parliament.

Earlier, the Commons was in uproar after it emerged the Speaker had allowed MPs the chance to have a major influence on the Brexit process through simply amending a business motion, which would set out the run of play.

The assurances are expected to be delivered in an exchange of letters on the eve of next Tuesday's vote - but the European Union has not so far found a form of words which would provide the game changing boost needed by May to win the vote.

The EU Withdrawal Act states that the Government must a statement of intent within 21 days of a defeat, meaning Mr Grieve's victory has sped up the timetable and hacked into the time available to Mrs May to secure concessions from Brussels before MPs vote again.

Late on Tuesday, legislators backed an amendment to the Finance Bill that puts roadblocks in the way of government spending on no-deal Brexit measures.

A majority of members of Parliament oppose a no-deal Brexit, but it remains the default option if May's deal is rejected.

50% of MPs, and 80% of Conservative MPs, said that customs union membership would not honour the referendum result, while 58% of MPs stated that a Brexit deal similar to membership of the European Economic Area would mean "we haven't truly left the European Union and honoured the referendum result".

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MPs will begin five days of debate on the Brexit deal on Wednesday, before finally voting on it next Tuesday (15 January).

"These discussions have shown that further clarification over the backstop is possible and those talks will continue over the next few days".

It looks like the government's charm offensive, created to win over the DUP, is dead on arrival.

"The only thing which could swing the DUP round is if the backstop as it applies to the United Kingdom as a whole or to Northern Ireland specifically were removed from this agreement", said Sammy Wilson, the DUP's Brexit spokesman.

But, these were immediately rejected by the Tories' DUP allies, who prop up Mrs May's government at Westminster.

However, Treasury minister Robert Jenrick told Parliament the proposal's only impact would be to make the country "somewhat less prepared" for a crash out of the bloc.

Mr Lidington told the BBC that no alternative deal would be negotiated.

"Isn't the prime minister bringing back exactly the same deal she admitted would be defeated four weeks ago?" he asked.

The government needs 318 votes to get a deal through the 650-seat House of Commons, as seven members of Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein do not sit, four Speakers and deputy Speakers do not vote, and the four tellers are not counted.

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